Simple Steps to Safeguard Your Vision
Prevention and Treatment According to CNIB research, Canadians are more afraid of losing their eyesight than almost anything else — and given that one in seven of us will develop a serious eye disease, it’s a fear that’s certainly not unfounded.
Fortunately, 75 percent of vision loss can be prevented or treated, and there’s a lot you can do to help save your sight.
“Every 12 minutes, someone in Canada begins to lose their vision. The earlier an eye disease is detected, the greater the chance of preventing or minimizing associated vision loss through treatment,” says Dr. Keith Gordon, Vice President, Research, at CNIB. A 2012 study showed one in seven Canadian adults may be living with some form of vision loss, much of which could be corrected.
“Every 12 minutes, someone in Canada begins to lose their vision. The earlier an eye disease is detected, the greater the chance of preventing or minimizing associated vision loss through treatment.”
Many eye diseases develop gradually and have no symptoms in the early stages until they eventually make themselves known with vision loss. The ability to perform daily tasks—reading, driving or cooking—is at risk with the loss of one’s vision. However, with proper support, people who are blind or partially sighted can learn to see beyond vision loss.
The importance of eye exams
The most important step you can take to help protect your vision is to get regular eye exams by a Doctor of Optometry.
The problem is that many Canadians aren’t getting their eyes checked as often as they should because they think their eyesight and their eye health are the same thing. They’re not.
Just because you have 20/20 vision doesn’t mean you have healthy eyes. The reality is that many eye diseases have no symptoms in their early stages, so you may not realize you have an eye disease until it’s too late to get treatment that could save your sight. That’s why it’s crucial to have regular, comprehensive eye exams, regardless of how old you are.
"The most important step you can take to help protect your vision is to get regular eye exams by a Doctor of Optometry."
While getting regular eye exams is essential, there are many day-to-day lifestyle choices that can help ensure your check-ups yield positive results—things like eating a healthy diet rich in protective nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and fiber.
Quitting smoking is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your eye health, as studies have shown that smokers are three to four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the primary cause of vision loss in Canada.
Don’t overlook the importance of fitness too. Elevated blood pressure and obesity are risk factors for a number of eye diseases, so maintaining a healthy body weight along with improving cardiovascular health can go a long way towards preserving your vision.
"Just because you have 20/20 vision doesn’t mean you have healthy eyes. The reality is that many eye diseases have no symptoms in their early stages, so you may not realize you have an eye disease until it’s too late to get treatment."
The effects of eye injuries
Last year an estimated 720,000 Canadians sustained an eye injury that required medical attention. Don’t take needless chances—wear protective eyewear when working with tools or doing yard work, and be sure to follow occupational safety protocols in the workplace.
Sports injuries are on the rise even in unsuspecting sports like soccer. Players of all ages should consult with a Doctor of Optometry to find the best protective eyewear suited to a particular sport.