Each and every day at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, board certified ophthalmologist Dr. William Segal and comprehensive consultative optometrist Dr. Marc Lay see dozens of patients to help treat both routine and serious vision problems. Many of these patients wonder whether there was anything that they could have done to prevent their specific vision problems from occurring. Although every case is different, and every eye condition has its own distinct causes and warning signs, there are a few basic health tips that we will usually recommend to patients who want to keep their eyes healthy and their vision sharp.
Exposure to ultraviolet light, which can easily pass through cloud cover, can lead to photokeratitis, a condition similar to sunburn on the front surface of the eye. Over time, it has also been shown to increase the likelihood of serious conditions like macular degeneration and even cataracts. We recommend wearing sunglasses that block out wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (nm) (which will reflect 99-100 % of UV-A and UV-B light) whenever you are outside for an extended period.
Watch Your Diet and Blood Pressure
Both high blood pressure and the elevated glucose levels often experienced by people with diabetes could potentially damage the tiny blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the retina, leading to a condition called retinopathy. As the condition worsens, it can cause blurred vision, macular edema, or even a detached retina, any of which could potentially progress into complete vision loss.
Try to Curtail Your Screen Time
Spending too much time staring at a computer screen can cause eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes, which together constitute a condition known as computer vision syndrome (or CVS). These symptoms can usually be avoided by taking regular breaks, but if left unaddressed can lead to more serious problems. Additionally, some studies have found that long term exposure to the intense wavelengths of blue light that are commonly used in electronic devices may increase the long-term risk of age-related macular degeneration, a common disease that affects central vision and is the leading cause of severe vision loss among people over the age of sixty.
Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
While fine in moderation, excessive rubbing of the eyes can expose them to harmful bacteria, scratch or otherwise damage the cornea, or even distort their shape. In extreme cases, this gradual distortion may lead to a thinning of the cornea, and as the cornea weakens it becomes less round and more football-shaped. This is known as keratoconus, and is a serious condition that can lead to distorted vision and ultimately the need for a corneal transplant.
Make Sure to Have Your Eyes Checked Regularly
Many of the most dangerous eye conditions progress gradually over time and have no obvious signs or symptoms in the earliest stages. This means that you may not notice that there is a problem until it is too late for early treatment options. We recommend that patients undergo a comprehensive medical eye exam every one to two years, although the frequency for individual patients can vary based on their age and prior medical history. This is the best way to catch potentially serious eye problems early, so they can be treated before they result in permanent vision loss.
If you have noticed any changes in your vision, or if you would like to come in for a regularly scheduled routine or comprehensive medical eye exam with Dr. Segal or Dr. Lay, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today to make an appointment. Following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ will give you some of the latest tips on keeping your eyes healthy.