How to keep your eyes healthy

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Number one on the list of America’s worst health nightmares (even before losing a memory or a limb!): vision loss. A bad dream scenario, sure, but the truth is that about 61 million of us are at high risk, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. “The eyes have a lot of delicate parts, so they just don’t age very well,” says Irène Barbazetto, MD, Ph.D.clinical instructor in ophthalmology at NYU Langone Health in New York.

Ben Wiseman

These pieces work together in intricate and amazing ways to give you a sense of sight. Here is how does the eye work:

  • Cornea: Seeing starts here: light bounces off everything you look at and enters this transparent tissue on the surface of the orb, and the cornea bends the light to make the image clearer.
  • Iris: The colored part of the eye (surrounded by the bright white sclera) not only looks good, it is responsible for changing the size of the pupil.
  • Student: This opening in the center of the iris widens to accommodate light when it’s dark and narrows to restrict light when there’s too much of it, allowing us to see objects both in daylight and at dusk.
  • Lens: The light bends even more once it hits the lens, which is located behind the iris. This structure controls the focus, allowing us to observe, for example, a field of flowers from afar or a single flower up close.
  • Vitreous Humor: Taking up most of the space between the back of the lens and the retina, this clear gel helps keep the eye rounded and nourished.
  • Retina: The light that enters through the cornea and through the lens ends up in this tissue at the back. Here, photoreceptor cells (including rods and cones) convert light into electrical impulses. The tiny area in the center of the retina called the macula is responsible for our central vision, allowing us to see what is directly in front of us.
  • Optic nerve: Electrical signals travel through the millions of fibers of this nerve to enter the brain, which identifies the impulses as any object we look at.

    The best ways to keep your eyes healthy

    You can do a lot to keep your eyes in good working order. Top of the list are regular exams (including an eye exam with dilation so a professional can examine the inner workings of your eyes) to help detect conditions that put you at risk.

    Eat the best foods for eye health

    Carrots, squash and pumpkins are packed with vitamin A, essential for eye health, according to Elena Roth, MDa comprehensive ophthalmologist at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute In Miami. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are rich in the eye-friendly antioxidant lutein.

    Stop smoking

    Stop smoking reduces the risk not only of lung and heart disease, but also of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage.

    Protect your eyes

    Wear the best sunglasses you can find, even in winter; they help protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, exposure to which can lead to cataracts and certain cancers. Look for large lenses and 99% to 100% blockage of UVA and UVB rays. And put on safety glasses or eye protection when using a hammer, nail gun, or chemicals that could splash, as well as when playing any sport involving a ball.

    keep your eyes clean

    If bacteria get in, it can cause an infection with uncomfortable symptoms like itching, swelling, discharge, pain, and/or difficulty seeing. Throw away old eye makeup and replace your mascara about every three months. If you wear contact lenses, make sure your hands are clean when you put them on and take them out at night even if they are labeled for long-term wear. Sleeping with these lenses increases your risk tenfold because it gives bacteria time to multiply. “Contact lens wearers can introduce germs when they insert the lenses and are at high risk for eye infections,” says Vatinee Bunya, MDco-director of Penn Center for Dry Eyes and the Ocular Surface and assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Separate screen time

    Staring at TVs, phones, or computer screens can cause dry eyes, blurred vision, or headaches because we blink less often than we should. Use the 20-20-20 rule to relax and rehydrate your eyes: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet ahead for 20 seconds.

    Have eye drops handy

    The best eye drops can help soothe dry eyes or calm itching due to allergies or other irritants by removing particles. A pro tip: Store preservative-free single-use artificial tears in your refrigerator. Cooling will provide a little more soothing relief.

    Watch your eye changes

    Do you notice any dark specks drifting into your line of sight? These are floaters, which occur when the clear gel clumps behind the eyes, but they are usually not dangerous and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them except wait patiently. If new ones appear suddenly and are accompanied by flashes of light or shadows, see your doctor to rule out a retinal tear. And if you start to notice that the white of your eye is red or the inside of your eyelid is swollen or itchy or has a crusty discharge, it could be pink eye, a minor but super contagious virus that inflames the lining of the eye. . Be vigilant about washing your hands to avoid spreading it to your other eye (or other people!), and stay away from work or school until the symptoms are completely gone. which takes about seven to 10 days.

    lenses and prisms

    ben goldstein

    Protect Your Eyes From These 5 Common Vision Problems

    Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to deal with potential sight stealers. An eye exam can also detect red flags that signal more systemic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and even the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Refractive errors

    It sounds scary, but it just implies nearsightedness or farsightedness and can also refer to astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances) and presbyopia, the loss of near focus capability (hello, reading glasses!). Genetics, age, and gender can play a role in eye problems. In fact, women 40 and older have 14% more refractive problems than men that age.

    What helps: Glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery can temporarily (or permanently) improve your vision.

    Cataract

    This blurred vision problem occurs when the proteins in the lenses clump together into clouds, and it usually appears in older people. “As people get older, almost everyone gets cataracts,” says Dr. Barbazetto. Lots of sun, taking steroids, being diabetic, smoking or drinking alcohol on a regular basis can increase your risk. An eye exam can detect a cataract, but you’ll probably notice it first: colors will start to fade, you’ll see a halo around the light, or you won’t be able to see easily at night.

    What helps: If your cataract is small, try using a magnifying glass while reading and replacing your bulbs with brighter bulbs. If a cataract becomes too large, the remedy is outpatient surgery to implant an artificial lens.

    Macular degeneration

    As we age, the macula can develop deposits or fill with leaky blood vessels, impairing vision. You may see a gray or black patch in your central vision, but still be able to observe things in the periphery. This is because the macula helps us see straight ahead. Nearly 2 million Americans suffer from age-related macular degeneration.

    What helps: Treatments have been shown to slow progression and save sight, which is why diagnosing AMD early is crucial, says Dr. Barbazetto. Once you’re in your mid to late 40s, you should get an eye exam every two years, or every year if you have a family history of AMD. If early to intermediate AMD is diagnosed, you can take special supplements containing vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein and other nutrients to slow the damage.

    Glaucoma

    The pressure built up in the eye can damage the optic nerve over time; this first impacts peripheral vision, with total blindness possibly resulting. Anyone can get glaucoma, but age and genetics (especially if you are Afro-American or Hispanic/Latinx) can increase the odds.

    What helps: Medicine, lasers or surgery can help the disease progress.

    Diabetic retinopathy

    Eye problems can be a complication of type 2 diabetes because high blood sugar damages retinal vessels over time. “Tight blood sugar control can help prevent this complication,” says Dr. Roth. If you have diabetes, eat well, exercise, take all prescribed medications, check your blood sugar regularly, and have an annual dilated retina exam.

    What helps: Besides maintaining habits that help balance blood sugar, lasers, injections, or surgery can be effective, but they can only help before vision loss, says Dr. Roth, so early diagnosis is crucial.

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