April is a month of hope, a time when flowers began to bloom, temperatures start to warm and everyone comes out of their winter slumber. Now more than ever we know not to take our health for granted and to make choices that promote good health for ourselves and our loved ones. In April we celebrate World Health Day which continues the theme from March highlighting Save Your Vision.
Here are some tips to keep your eyes healthy and your vision strong at every age and stage of life.
5 ways to protect your vision health
- Get regular eye exams.
- Eat a healthy diet, including leafy greens such as spinach or kale, and maintain a healthy weight.
- Know your family’s eye health history.
- Wear sunglasses that block out 99% to 100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation (the sun’s rays).
- Quit smoking or don’t start.
Vision care can change lives
Early treatment is critically important to prevent some common eye diseases from causing permanent vision loss or blindness:
- Cataracts (clouding of the lens), is a leading cause of vision loss
- Diabetic retinopathy (causes damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye)
- Glaucoma (a group of diseases that damages the optic nerve)
- Age-related macular degeneration (gradual breakdown of light-sensitive tissue in the eye)
These conditions can actually steal your vision as they may present no prior symptoms of pain or discomfort. Of the estimated 5.5 million Canadians at high risk for vision loss, only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months. Regular eye care can have a life-changing impact on preserving the vision of millions of people.
Diabetes and your eyes
High blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina (a light-sensitive part of the eye), where scarring can cause permanent vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is also one of the most preventable causes of vision loss and blindness. Early detection and treatment can prevent or delay blindness due to diabetic retinopathy in 90% of people with diabetes, but 50% or more of them don’t get their eyes examined or are diagnosed too late for effective treatment.
People with diabetes are also at higher risk for other eye diseases, including glaucoma and cataracts. If you have diabetes, an eye exam every year is necessary to protect and preserve your eyesight and eye health.
How often should you get eye exams?
- Children’s eyes should be checked regularly by an eye doctor or pediatrician in the very early years. Vision screening for all children at least once between age 3 and 5 years can help to detect amblyopia (or lazy eye) or risk factors for the disease. School age children ages 6-19 should have yearly eye exams with a doctor of optometry.
- People with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam every year as they are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy
- Seniors over the age of 65 should have regularly scheduled eye exams on a yearly basis
- Adults between the ages of 20-64 can be seen by their optometrist every two years
Focus on these simple tips to promote a lifetime of healthy eyes and strong vision.