The importance of eye health
We know our eyes are important, but the best way to take care of them isn’t always clear. Are spots in your vision normal, or should you be concerned? How often should you see an ophthalmologist? Should family history play a role in your care plan?
Dr. Raja S. Goli, comprehensive ophthalmologist at Mercy Health — Defiance Clinic, shared some helpful tips on how to incorporate eye health into your overall health and wellness plan.
Simple steps that help protect vision
“If it’s good for your body, it’s generally good for your eye health as well,” said Dr. Goli. Here are his top tips for encouraging eye health:
- Work with your primary care provider to keep your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol as close to normal as possible.
- Don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet high in leafy green vegetables and exercise regularly.
- Keep a pair of safety glasses on hand and wear them whenever you’re doing something that could put your eyes at risk. Activities like lawn work, car repairs and DIY projects are often overlooked when it comes to safety glasses, but they shouldn’t be.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection, not just in summer, but whenever it’s sunny.
See an ophthalmologist
“How often you should see an eye doctor will vary based on your overall health, whether you have a prescription for glasses or contacts and your family history. Many eye disorders are hereditary, so be sure to let your eye doctor know if any blood relatives have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts or other issues,” Dr. Goli said.
- If you don’t have any diagnosed eye diseases, don’t wear contacts or glasses and don’t have a family history of eye issues, schedule an eye exam at least every 2-3 years or as soon as you notice a change in your vision.
- Contact lenses increase the chance of eye infections. See your eye doctor regularly to check your prescription and ensure overall eye health.
- Other health conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes, can greatly increase your chance of vision issues. In addition to the recommended course of treatment for the underlying condition, see your eye doctor at least once a year.
- If you have a family history of vision issues, your eye doctor may recommend more frequent exams, diagnostic testing or baseline testing to make it easier to spot potential problems.
- Children should have an eye exam within the first few months of life. Look for an ophthalmologist or optometrist who is experienced in seeing infants and toddlers.
Signs of eye health problems
While it’s natural to experience slight changes in vision, some changes can signal bigger issues.
- Most people experience the occasional “floater” or small shadow that passes across the eye when they look at a light background. However, if you are experiencing an increase in floaters or noticing them for the first time, it could be a sign of a tear in the retina, a serious condition that can lead to blindness.
- Experiencing a glare when driving at night and trouble reading, especially for those who are 50 or older, could be symptoms of cataracts. While cataracts take time to develop, they can form more quickly if you’ve experienced an eye injury, if you have diabetes, or if you’ve taken certain types of steroid medications.
If you experience either of these issues, contact your eye doctor right away. Advanced diagnostic equipment makes it easier to detect eye disorders earlier, increasing the options for treatment and improving outcomes.
If you need general ophthalmology services or are seeking specialized treatment for an eye condition, visit mercy.com for more information.
Read more about how to prevent hearing loss here.