According to the CDC, there are approximately 11 million Americans 12 years and older suffer from vision problems. There are also more than 3 million Americans over the age of 40 that have been declared legally blind. Though there are a number of factors that contribute to these large numbers, essentially, many of these eye diseases, infections, and defects could have been prevented and/or treated had patients regularly visited the eye doctor and reached out at the sign of trouble.

Education is, therefore, the first step in preventing these numbers from increasing. Knowing the most common eye problems and causes/risk factors can increase the number of medical patients that take care of their vision.

Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the nation’s leading causes of death impacting the lives of more than 30 million people. Diabetes is a disease that results when your blood glucose (sugar) is too high. This is the result of the pancreas being unable to produce enough (or any) insulin to balance your sugar levels. Someone suffering from diabetes can struggle from a number of other related conditions including eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that damages the retina. The retina is thin tissue located on the inside wall at the back of your eye that has tons of rods and cones responsible for receiving and organizing visual information. When someone suffers from diabetic retinopathy, it means that the blood vessels within the retina have become damaged as a result of high glucose levels. Symptoms might include seeing spots, loss of vision, blurry vision, or haziness.

What to Do

If you’ve experienced any of these signs, it is important that you look for an ophthalmologist in Torrence, CA (or located near you). If this condition goes untreated, it can cause bleeding in the eyes, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and blindness.

Prevention

Preventing diabetic retinopathy is possible. It requires diabetic patients to properly manage their blood sugar levels and take care of their overall health through proper dieting and exercise. Also, getting regular eye exams on an annual basis can help detect problems before they become serious.

Smoking

According to the CDC, as of 2017, there are more than 34 million adult smokers in the United States. Though the comprehension of how bad tobacco products can be for your health has increased, many have developed an addiction and/or choose to smoke despite the consequences. While smoking can lead to a plethora of medical problems, an area that is commonly overlooked in your vision. Smokers increase their chances of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Cataracts is the blurring of the eye lens. This typically happens over time as a result of aging. However, if you’re a smoker, you can speed this process up. It is believed that smoking alters the cells of your eye lens through a process called oxidation. There has also been research done on how cigarette smoke causes the buildup of heavy metals in the lens.

What to Do

Symptoms of cataracts include a gradual decline in vision, loss of vision (even with glasses), blurred vision, bad night vision, or double vision. It is imperative that you find a certified and trusted ophthalmologist to perform cataract surgery. This is the process of replacing your cloudy lens with an artificial clear lens.

Prevention

Though cataracts can happen as a natural response to aging, there are things you can do to prevent it. Quit smoking is at the top of the list. You should also protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses when exposed to the sun, maintain your diabetes (as this is another common diabetic eye problem), and avoid injuring your eye (i.e. wear protective eyewear when necessary, keep things away from your eye, and avoid rubbing the eye).

You may not be able to control the fact that you have diabetes or stop your body’s natural aging process, but there are things you can do to prevent these things from ruining your vision. Prevention starts by finding a trusted eye doctor for annual exams to monitor your vision and search for any issues before they get out of hand. However, it also requires you to take care of your overall health. Doing things like managing your diabetes, quitting bad habits like smoking, and protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays and injury allows you to continue to see the world and all of its beauty, clearly.

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