Diabetes Awareness Month and Your Eye Health

This month is Diabetes Awareness Month.  Diabetes is a very serious disease affecting millions of Americans, and the rate of diabetes is steadily increasing.  Diabetes is a chronic disease in which there are abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood.  Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that controls blood sugar levels. Too little insulin in the blood, resistance to insulin, or both can cause diabetes.

When we eat food a sugar called glucose, a source of fuel for the body, enters our blood stream.  The role of insulin is to move glucose from our blood into our other organs, fat, and muscle to then be used as fuel.  When a person has diabetes their body cannot remove the glucose from the blood stream to the other areas in our body because not enough insulin is produced, or the cells do not respond to insulin normally.  There are three types of diabetes – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.  Type 1 can happen at any age, but it is mainly found in children and it caused by lack of insulin.  Type 2 diabetes is the most common.  Gestational diabetes happens to women during pregnancy, but this is not chronic.

One of the most common causes of eye problems in adults is diabetes.  It is a disease called diabetic retinopathy and it affects the retina.  The retina is the light-sensitive tissue in the back of your eye and you need a healthy retina in order to see properly.  Diabetic retinopathy happens when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye.  Some other diabetic eye problems are cataracts and glaucoma.

Any one with diabetes should make sure to have a yearly eye check up – along with all those who think they may have perfect eyesight!

Taking Care Of Your Eyes Is Easy

Taking care of your vision should be one of your top priorities.  Our eyes take in the world around us, and sadly out of the five senses this is fastest growing one to be lost.   There are four main ways to take of your eyes – protecting them, preventing eye problems, finding out about congenial eye disease, and looking into temporary eye conditions.  It is recommended to get an eye check up at least once a year!

Protecting your eyes is the first most important thing, and it is fairly easy, it just requires a little bit of extra effort.  Recent studies have found that certain vitamins are key to good eye health.  Vitamin A, found in carrots and multi-vitamins, is key to preventing deficiencies.  One of the symptoms of a Vitamin A deficiency is a chronic dry eye, if you have this we highly recommend you ask both your physician and optometrists about this condition.  The next great nutrient for your eyes is antioxidants – they help prevent macular degeneration.  They also have a lot of other nutritional value for your whole body.  The other key to protecting your eyes is wearing the correct protection.  When in the sun wearing sunglasses is crucial to prevent UV damage.   When doing house work, or work where small debris may fly into the eye wearing safety goggles is a must.  A small step like this could prevent a much larger disaster from happening.

Preventing eye problems is the next step.  This is again easy, but it requires making the extra effort.   The first step is to wear sunglasses, just like your skin can get burnt so can your eyes.  Wearing a hat and sunglasses is the best idea because it cuts down light reflecting off the water or other surfaces as well.  The other unintentional problem that we face is eyestrain.  When one works in front of a computer all day or reads all the time this can cause a lot of strain on the eyes.  Make sure to take breaks, take a walk, and let your eyes wonder.  They’re many exercises to do to prevent eyestrain.

Sadly, there some eye diseases we cannot prevent fully, but being aware of them is key.  Some of the main congenial eye diseases are cataracts and astigmatism.   Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that results in obscured vision.  Astigmatism is caused by a defect in the curvature of the eye, which mainly affects the peripheral vision.   If you would like to find out more about congenial diseases ask your optometrist, many of the diseases your doctor will test for on a regular basis such as glaucoma.

The last step to good eye health is finding out about temporary conditions.  The most common temporary condition is conjunctivitis also known as pink eye.   It is caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva.  If your eyes are bothering you in any way such as dry eyes, itchy eyes, watery eyes, these are all temporary problems that can be fixed.

Remember to get a yearly check up at your optometrist.  With today’s technology it is a quick easy visit, that no longer requires drops and wait periods, everything is done electronically!

Smoking Cigarettes has Been Linked to Blindness

Smoking is already known to kill by causing lung cancer – we are now finding it may also cause blindness.  Smoking has been directly related to increase risk of cataracts, which are directly linked to blindness.  Cigarettes have over 4000 chemicals, and over 200 toxic chemicals.  Many of these toxic chemicals are carcinogenic which cause free radicals.  These free radicals at first were only linked to lung cancer and other cancers, but they are now linked to cataracts.

The combination of free radicals, fat build-ups, and hypoxia result in a cataract.  It also may result in age-related macular degeneration, loss of night vision, as well as permanent damage to the retina and optic nerve.  Smoking increases your risk for many eye diseases because of the build up of free radicals.  Many of the eye problems it creates are irreversible, and cause blindness.

Second-hand smoke has recently been found to be very harmful for ones eyes.   Second-hand smoke can linger in a room for over two hours without any odor meaning your body is inhaling many of the chemicals from the tobacco even though you did not smoke it yourself.

Many states in the US have outlawed smoking in an in-closed space, and some have gone so far as to out law it in outdoors spaces as well.  This is a great beginning for the future of a smoke free environment.  For the moment, we are inhaling many chemicals that are causing faster degeneration of the body.   If you must smoke, or be around smoke, be sure to open windows and keep cleaner air flowing in.

July is eye Injury Month

July is eye injury prevention month!  The summer is a great time relax, maybe do some work around the house, and fix things up.  But, not everyone remembers to wear sunglasses or safety goggles while doing all this work. American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that more than two million eye injuries occur each year in the United States.  45% of these occur in the home, with another 40% occurring from sports or other recreational activities.  90% of these are preventable and only 35% occur while wearing some sort of eyewear.

July is an especially important month for eye care because of July 4th.  Fireworks cause many injuries, especially eye injuries because almost nobody is wearing eye protection while viewing the show.  There are around 2,00 firework eye injuries every year, and 50% occur in children 15 and younger.  It can be hard to force your children to wear eye protection, but it would be more regrettable to not.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma recommend that every household have at least one pair of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) glasses.  These have side shields that protect any debris or fluids from splashing into the eye.  These will also have the ANSI marking on the side.

It is also important to remember that the sun is three times stronger in the summer, so always wear UV protection glasses.  If you are going to be working in the sun with a lot of hazardous materials try and find a pair of safety goggles that have UV protection as well.

It is an easy safety precaution that will help to prevent up to 90% of eye injuries.  Make sure to go out and by yourself a pair of safety as goggles, as well as actually using them!

Vitamins for Your Eyes are Found in Your Daily Foods!

Most of us take vitamins for any ailment and to keep our selves healthy.  We know that Vitamin C is good for our immune system, and Vitamin D is good for our skin and sun health, and we all have our daily vitamin to cover all the basics.  But, what about Vitamins for our eyes!  We are constantly using our eyes through out the day and rarely stop to think about them until they are bothering us.  Well, we do have a vitamin for them, it won’t correct or necessarily stop degenerating eye health, but it will help to prevent many eye problems!

Ever heard the myth that carrots help you see better?  Well carrots do carry a very helpful vitamin for eye health – Vitamin A.  Vitamin A is an antioxidising agent that is known to prevent weakening vision, macular degeneration, cataracts, and even blindness. Carrots alone aren’t the total daily vitamins for eyes, but it is a main part.  Like any part of the body other vitamins work in conjunction with Vitamin A to create a healthy effect.  Vitamin C for instance is known to reduce the risk of glaucoma and degeneration.

We do have to be careful though, because like any vitamin, we can overdose and it can cause a bad reaction.  When one has an overdose of Vitamin A the eyes will become red, itchy, and will worsen when taking more vitamins.  Check with your doctor to find out more about the best vitamins for your eyes and if there are any other supplements you should be taking.  Each of the “eye” vitamins are found in both your daily vitamin as well as in daily foods such as carrots, oranges, and nuts!

Sunglasses: Your Eyes Sunscreen

It is common knowledge that we need sunscreen when we go in the sun, but what about the areas that we can’t put sunscreen on like our eyes?  Most people forget that the same way our skin can be damaged by the UV rays, so can our eyes.

Sunglasses are the best way to protect your eyes, but one needs to be careful that they have the right sunglasses.  The sunglasses need to protect both UVA and UVB rays.  For extra protection one can get larger frames or wrap around glasses so the sun doesn’t come in through the sides.  Polarized lenses also give extra protection by blocking the suns reflections and decreasing the glare.   A common misconception is that the darker the lens the more protection is offered.  One wants to choose a lens color that is based on your activities.

Most sun damage is caused before the age of 18 so it is very important to remember to make your children wear sunglasses as well.   One does not need the most expensive sunglasses; just make sure they have both UVA and UVB protection.

Over exposing one’s eyes to the sun has been known to cause many eye diseases such as cataracts, growths and eye cancer.  An unexpected common cancer is cancer of the eyelids.  It is practically impossible to put sunscreen there and if one is not wearing sunglasses the skin is so sensitive it burns easily.

Remember that any part of one’s body that is exposed to the sun has the potential to be damaged by the sun.  Cover up all parts of the body remembering places like our eyes, and top of our heads.  In order to make sure that one has not caused sun damage to your eyes go for a yearly eye check up!