What you need to know about preparation, surgery and recovery
1. Have regular comprehensive eye exams
After the age of 40, getting an eye exam at least once a year is an important part of staying healthy and maintaining your vision health into your senior years. To check your eye health, it is imperative that you have a comprehensive eye exam performed by a licensed eye doctor or specialist (an optometrist or ophthalmologist).
Be sure not to confuse a visual screening with a comprehensive eye exam, as a visual screening is nothing more than a visual acuity test using a Snellen eye chart, which does not evaluate your overall eye health. Eye exams, however, assess the complete health of your eyes, helping to detect the early signs of serious eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, detached retina and age-related macular degeneration.
2. Eat right for your sight
Eye health starts with what you eat and making sure you have a well-balanced diet comprised of fruit, leafy greens and vegetables. Make sure that your diet includes foods that are rich in antioxidants, which is the key to keeping your eyes healthy and may help you to reduce your risk of developing eye conditions later on.
Many foods, especially fish, contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that are important to the health of central vision. Also colourful fruits and vegetables that are bursting in vitamin A, C, D, E, beta-carotene and zinc will give your eyes a healthy boost.
3. Exercise regularly
The benefits of regular exercise extend further than helping your heart, energy levels and waistline – it also can help to protect eyesight. Several studies conducted in the last decade have found a link between regular exercise and reducing the risk of eye diseases, including glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Since many eye diseases are linked to other health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle can, therefore, leave a person at greater risk of vision loss as they age.
4. Protect your eyes from UV light
Sunglasses are much more than a fashion accessory; most importantly, they help protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Exposure to UV rays can raise your risk of developing eye diseases and conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, pterygium and even cancer of the eyes and eyelids.
When purchasing sunglasses, check the label to make sure that the lenses are designed to block out 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation.
5. Quit smoking
Nothing good ever comes from smoking; not only does this highly addictive habit increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, but it can also cause damage to your eyes.
Studies show that smokers are at significantly greater risk of macular degeneration, uveitis, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye and infant eye disease (women who smoke during pregnancy transmit dangerous toxins to the placenta, potentially harming the unborn child).
By avoiding second-hand smoke or quitting if you are a smoker are some of the best investments you can make for your long-term eye health and to reduce your chances of developing vision problems in the future.
6. Take note of changes in your vision
If you start noticing changes in your vision, including double vision, hazy vision, difficulty in seeing in low light conditions, it is vital that you make an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as possible. Also, red eyes, frequent flashes of light, floaters, eye pain and swelling are also other signs of potentially serious eye problems.
Catching serious eye problems early can help preserve your vision, which is why it is important to make an appointment with your eye doctor if you notice any changes.
7. Know your family's eye health history
Since many eye diseases are hereditary, it is important to be aware of your family’s eye health history to find out if you are at higher risk of certain eye diseases. Sharing this information during your next eye exam can help your ophthalmologist or optometrist identify and look out for potential high-risk areas. For example, if you have a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure, it is important to have regular eye and overall health checks at least twice a year, especially if you are over the age of 60.