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How to Protect Your Vision

 If you’ve never had issues with your eyesight, then you probably have not given much thought to treating your eyes right. However, since they are some of our most important organs, it really is never too early to start taking care of your eyes, and here are ten points to keep in mind when doing so:

 

1. Protect your eyes from the sun
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The skin that surrounds your eyes is very thin and susceptible to ultraviolet radiation. Different types of skin cancer, such as carcinoma and melanoma, are able to form in your eyelids and around your eyes, which can cause a lot of damage to the eye structure.

Your sunglasses are also important, and you should buy a pair that gives you 100% protection from both UVA and UVB rays since they are both able to stimulate issues that cause macular degeneration and cataracts, both common causes of blindness.

2. What you eat matters
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Eating well is the best way to ensure proper eye care, says Rebecca Taylor, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Nashville Vision Associates in Tennessee, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. She also says that you should try to get most of your nutrients from food.

Green leafy vegetables provide your body with the nutrients zeaxanthin and lutein, both of which have been shown to decrease the risk of eye diseases. The vitamin A that orange and yellow vegetables contain also boost eye health, while certain fruits, such as mangoes, oranges, and strawberries provide your eyes with a healthy dose of vitamin C and other antioxidants.

3. Comprehensive eye exams detect vision problems early
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Getting your eyes tested regularly is the best way to catch a range of eye issues, like glaucoma or diabetic eye disease. Most people with ocular issues, or those over 65, should see their eye doctor at least once a year to ensure that their sight hasn’t changed at all. People between 40 and 55 should take an eye exam every 2 to 4 years, while those between 55 and 65 should take one every 1 to 3 years.
4. Smoking now can cause eye issues later
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“Get off tobacco in any form,” Taylor says. Smoking causes cyanide to enter into your bloodstream, which is known to kill the eye’s cells. Smoking puts you at an increased risk of cataract development and will make your eyes dry out. What's more, it also increases your risk of developing macular degeneration, which is an incurable condition that harms center eye vision, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
5. Working on a computer all day could give you dry eyes
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According to Steven Loomis, OD, of Roxborough Park, Colorado, president of the American Optometric Association, one of the most common symptoms of dry eyes is an eye that waters. This is due to the deterioration of the oily and mucous layers, which prevents the evaporation of tears, thereby causing the eye to compensate by producing more water. Dry eyes might also be caused by certain medications, such as antidepressants, inflammation, or even hormonal changes.

To treat dry eyes, try the 20-20-20 rule, which is recommended by the Mayo Clinic - Every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something that's at least 20 feet away. A warm compress could also help, as can artificial tears that help deal with tired eyes.

6. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the USA
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Preventing diabetes is the most effective way to avoid diabetic retinopathy, which has been found to be the most common cause of blindness in the United States. In fact, 60% of patients with Type II diabetes will end up developing it, while almost all people with Type I diabetes end up developing it.

Even though no symptoms appear during its early stages, it is very important to catch retinopathy as early as can be. With time, your vision may blur and you could even end up completely blind. Controlling blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure can prevent it from getting worse. This condition can be treated through laser surgery, which can lessen the chances of further blindness.

7. After 60, macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness
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Macular degeneration takes place when eye tissue begins to degenerate, leading to blurriness or loss of vision in the center of the eye. There are two distinct types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. If vision loss is caused by retinal fluid, then eye injections can treat it.

Unfortunately, most cases are dry, for which no treatment is available. Risk factors for macular degeneration include smoking, a family history of the condition, lutein and zeaxanthin deficiencies, and not wearing sunglasses.

8. Cataracts are common but highly treatable
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Cataracts are a typical part of aging and usually appear around the age of sixty. Typical signs of a cataract include seeing faded colors, blurred vision, glare, double vision, and reduced night vision. Cataracts are linked to exposure to UV radiation or certain types of radiation therapy, such as the ones used in cancer treatment. Certain drugs such as prednisone may also increase the risk of cataract development. Luckily, cataracts are often very easy to cure.
9. Damage to the optic nerve causes glaucoma
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Glaucoma is renowned for being secretive and insidious, and the only way to detect it is through an eye test. It occurs when pressure builds up and starts to harm the optic nerve. The condition progresses very slowly, Loomis says, and it can take years for the nerve damage to become severe enough to cause vision problems.

The risk is higher for diabetics or those with a family history. In most cases, treatment includes a daily eye drop to reduce eye pressure. If the drops fail to provide any tangible improvement, then surgery may be the only choice left.

10. Your eyes tell a lot about your health
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Your eyes actually act as an indicator of your overall health condition. Dry eyes can be symptomatic of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or even thyroid disease. Blurred vision could be indicative of diabetes or a tumor, and itchy eyes may be caused by an allergic reaction to contact lenses.

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