May is Healthy Vision Month. Established in 2003 by The National Eye Institute, it aims to encourage Americans to learn how to keep their eyes healthy and safe. At The Chicago Lighthouse, one of our priorities is providing services to those experiencing low vision. However, taking good care of your eyes is important regardless of your vision level in order to prevent disease or injury. Those with visual impairments can prevent further vision loss by maintaining good eye health.
According to The National Eye Institute, more than 23 million Americans over the age of 18 have never had an eye exam. Even more alarming is the fact that by 2030, over 19 million people in the United States may experience vision loss as a result of diseases like diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. If caught on time, these diseases can successfully be managed with advanced treatments. There are also precautions people can take to prevent eye injuries. Below are some tips from the National Eye Institute that can help everyone maintain good eye health.
- Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Many diseases, like diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma can be detected in their early stages. This will prevent or even avoid severe vision loss. Dilated eye exams can also help in diagnosing common vision problems like cataracts.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Most of us do not realize that our overall health and lifestyles are directly correlated to our eye health. Things like eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking can prevent serious health conditions. One of the leading causes of eye disease is diabetes, and by maintaining a healthy weight people can lower the risk of developing this and other chronic conditions.
- Know your family history. Like other health conditions, some eye diseases are also hereditary. Some examples of inherited diseases include age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and other retinal diseases. By knowing your family’s history, you and your eye care specialist can determine if you are at higher risk for developing these or other eye diseases.
- Use protective eyewear. Each day, around 2000 Americans experience job-related eye injuries, and over 100 others suffer sports-related eye injuries. By using eyewear like goggles, safety glasses and eye guards, people can prevent these injuries from happening in the first place. Talk with your eye care professional about finding eyewear that is right for you.
- Wear sunglasses. Summer is just around the corner, and it is important to protect the eyes from the effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Some of the sun’s long-term effects on the eyes include the development of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are leading causes of blindness in the United States.
For more information about these and other tips on how to protect your eyes, you can visit this page from the National Eye Institute. If you are someone with a visual impairment, we invite you to learn more about The Chicago Lighthouse’s low vision programs and services. Our comprehensive programs offer individuals with low vision the latest in technology and rehabilitation so they can better cope with and manage their eye condition. Happy Healthy Vision Month to everyone! By taking care of your eyes now, you can help maintain healthy vision all year long.