3 Things to Know About the Leading Cause of Vision Loss

by MikeMeehan 6/7/2017 4:10 PM

In the United States, cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss. Though cataracts are a common condition, maybe you have a parent, grandparent or close friend that has had surgery, our familiarity shouldn’t take away from the importance of the issue. We use health observance days, weeks or months to help bring attention to issues that can affect you. And this month, as your vision benefits provider, we’re sharing some useful information for Cataract Awareness Month. Here are three topics to start a good knowledge foundation. It is also recommended to consult with your eye doctor about any concerns you might have about cataracts or other vision health questions. What is a cataract? A cataract, considered a medical condition, is a clouding on the lens of your eye. The cloudiness prevents light from entering the eye. Cataracts can cause blurred vision or complete vision loss. There are also different types of cataracts such as congenital, traumatic and secondary. Age-related cataracts are the most common and usually develop after age 40. Surgery is the only way to completely treat vision loss caused by cataracts, but whether surgery is necessary depends on your specific condition. There are other treatments like contacts or glasses, but surgery is recommended when your vision loss interferes with your ability to perform normal and everyday tasks. Symptoms can develop over time Age-related cataracts will develop over time, so you might not notice changes in your vision right away. If you have a cataract, the ways your vision can be affected include: ·         Blurry vision ·         Double vision ·         Sensitivity to light ·         Vision trouble at night ·         Fading of bright colors or yellow vision If you’re changing your eyeglass prescription more often without much improvement to your vision, this could be a sign or symptom. Not often, but sometimes, you’ll be able to see a cataract in your eye. It will look like a cloudy or yellow-colored spot in your pupil. If you have any of these symptoms, or notice any of these signs, make an appointment with your eye doctor. Some risk factors, but no definitive cause Researchers have not found the definitive reason cataracts form, but there are factors that could put you at higher risk of developing a cataract. Some of these risk factors include: Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays Diabetes Hypertension Family history Eye injury or inflammation Smoking Long-term use of steroids Excessive alcohol use According to Prevent Blindness, the leading volunteer eye health and safety organization that named Cataract Awareness Month, as you get older, “you are at greater risk of developing a cataract” and they explain a cataract, most often, is a part of getting older. Possible prevention with carotenoids On the other hand, maintaining a healthy diet and getting the right nutrients could possibly help prevent cataracts from developing. Certain carotenoids, or antioxidants, may protect against cataracts, according to the American Optometric Association. The two types of carotenoids that studies show help in cataract prevention include lutein and zeaxanthin. Maintaining a diet that incorporates these nutrients can be beneficial in preventing cataracts. The American Optometric Association suggests eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, which can provide about 5 to 6 mg of carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin. Some foods rich in these nutrients include kale, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, peas, turnip greens and tangerines. Using sunglasses to protect yourself and your kids from UV rays that can contribute to cataract development is also an important part of a healthy vision lifestyle. We encourage you to schedule your annual comprehensive dilated eye exam to maintain healthy vision and detect cataracts or other vision problems.

The Coolest Way to Maintain Your Vision Health

by MikeMeehan 5/30/2017 1:13 PM

Wearing sunglasses is one of the coolest ways to maintain your vision health. It’s such a good idea, the National Eye Institute (NIH) included wearing sunglasses as one of their five recommendations for Healthy Vision Month, along with getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Exposing your eyes to the sun’s strong rays can cause severe damage and lead to a lot of different problems. Keeping sunglasses on is an easy way to protect yourself and your family, just make sure you purchase the right kind. Protect your eyes from these scary conditions Sunglasses can help protect your eyes from the sun’s rays damaging the cornea, lens, retina and other parts of your eyes. UV exposure for many hours or over the years can cause serious eye damage, eye conditions or worsen the symptoms of these conditions. Certain types of cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration have all been linked to extended exposure to ultraviolet rays. The NIH reports that 20% of cataract cases are caused by extended UV exposure. Cataracts and macular degeneration can result in vision loss. Other conditions include pingueculae, pterygium and photokeratitis. Pingueculae and pterygium are both growths on your eye’s conjunctiva (the clear covering over the white part of your eye). Photokeratitis, also called snow blindness, is like having sunburned eyes, or more technically, a sunburned cornea. But even though it has the alternative name of snow blindness, you don’t need to be around snow to develop the condition. Photokeratitis, caused by overexposure to UV rays, is painful and results in a temporary loss of vision. These all sound terrible, but we know they can be prevented with proper sunglasses. Now let’s make sure you’re getting the protection you need by choosing the right kind of sunglasses. Choose wisely, check labels When deciding what sunglasses to buy, choose a pair that blocks out 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Also, consider a pair that wraps around your eyes to provide more coverage. Polarized lenses are a popular choice because they reduce glare, especially useful when you’re around water or snow. But still make sure they have the 100% UV protection. With sunglasses that have dark tinted lens, still look for a 100% UV protection label, because a dark lens doesn’t always mean protection. It’s the material of the lens or the way the lens are treated that make them block the UV rays. Similarly, the price doesn’t guarantee UV protection either. So don’t assume an expensive pair has the protection you need or an inexpensive pair doesn’t have the protection you need. Overall, make sure they fit properly so you’re getting as much protection from the harmful rays as possible. And if you aren’t sure your sunglasses have the proper UV protection, use your eye doctor as a resource. Still need protection on cloudy days Even though the summer has arrived and the sun is bursting, remember to wear your sunglasses not only in the warm months but throughout the year. You might not think to grab your sunglasses when it’s overcast, but the sun’s rays can be just as harmful on cloudy days, too. If you haven’t already, create the habit of putting on your sunglasses every time you walk outside, and make sunglasses a part of your healthy vision lifestyle. We wish you a happy summer!

The Link Between Family History and Your Vision

by MikeMeehan 5/23/2017 10:37 AM

I remember learning in school how eye color is determined by the dominant and recessive genes of our parents. Remember the chart we filled in with uppercase and lowercase letters? But when it comes to your vision, you might share more than your parents’ eye color. You could have inherited an eye disease. Just like it’s important to know your family’s medical history for heart and other diseases, it’s the same for your family’s eye health history, suggests the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The National Eye Institute (NIH) recommends talking to family members including parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Since some eye diseases are passed down, knowing your family’s eye health history could help determine if you are high risk. May is Healthy Vision Month and knowing your family’s eye health history is one of the five steps the NIH recommends to keep your eyes healthy, along with getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam, using protective eyewear, wearing sunglasses, and living a healthy lifestyle. What to know Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are hereditary and two of the leading causes of blindness in adults, but they don’t have early stage symptoms. The Glaucoma Research Foundation states that your risk of glaucoma with increase four to nine times if the disease exists in your family history. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you have a “50 percent chance of developing AMD” if the disease runs in your family. In addition, myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism are common vision problems that have been linked to genetics. What to do Have a discussion with your family. Get regular eye exams, and talk to your vision care provider. After sharing your family’s eye health history with the doctor, she will be able to look for any signs of potential problems. Be proactive about your eye health and overall health. Staying fit and eating fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, will keep you and your eyes healthy. Wearing sunglasses and being aware of eye strain, if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or other electronic devices, are also proactive ways to keep your eyes healthy. While you figure out where your green eyes came from, learn about your family’s eye health history. You’ll be one step closer to healthy vision.

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