Habits that support a healthy lifestyle come in many forms, like eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and keeping an eye on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But did you know these and other healthy habits can also protect your and your family from vision loss?
Some of the leading causes of blindness and vision loss in the U.S. are retinal diseases, including conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But there are steps everyone, and especially those at a higher risk for retinal diseases, can take to prevent vision loss and support retina health.
“With state-of-the-art technologies that allow for early detection and advanced treatments, vision loss and blindness from retinal conditions can be treated effectively, but acting as early as possible is critical to maintaining healthy vision,” said American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) President Philip J. Ferrone, MD, FASRS. “To safeguard sight, it’s important that everyone know the signs and symptoms of retinal conditions, adopt some simple lifestyle habits that bolster retina health, and seek care immediately if sudden vision changes occur.”
During Healthy Vision Month, America’s retina specialists urge the public to adopt the following healthy habits to preserve healthy retinas and encourage family and friends to also take these steps to protect their sight.
- Get regular dilated retina exams. Many retinal diseases have few noticeable symptoms in the early stages. With regular dilated retina exams, your eye physician can help preserve your sight by detecting symptoms of a retinal condition early, before extensive damage occurs. After your exam, encourage friends and family to schedule their dilated retina exam.
- Eat nutritious foods including dark, leafy greens and fish. Research shows that consuming a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin has been associated with a lower incidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Quit smoking. Smoking can also lead to vision loss and blindness. In fact, research shows that people who smoke are significantly more likely than non-smokers to develop AMD. To access information and help for quitting smoking, call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) or visit SmokeFree.gov.
- Control your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. If you have diabetes, one of the best ways of lowering your risk of vision loss and preventing diabetic eye disease is to closely monitor and manage your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that people who walk for exercise are less likely to develop AMD. Exercise also helps control obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol which benefits eye health. Make staying active a family affair by adding a walk or bike ride to your next family get together.
- Know your family history. Ask family members if they have had vision issues. Retinal conditions including AMD, diabetic retinopathy and even retinal detachments may have a genetic component that runs in families.
- Protect your eyes from the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage not only our skin but also our eyes. Wear a pair of sunglasses that provide 100% UV absorption or block both UVA and UVB rays and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.
In addition to family history, common risk factors of retinal disease include older age, smoking, and high blood pressure and cholesterol. Pay close attention to your vision and find a retina specialist if you experience common adult symptoms for retinal disease, including blurred central vision, loss of color vision, distortion or straight lines appearing wavy, and new or worsening floaters or flashes of light.
For more information about retina health visit SeeforaLifetime.org.