Preventable Eye Problems
What kind of eye problems are preventable?
Sight to some people is the most valuable or vital of all the senses. With your sight, you can view, navigate, and understand the world around you. And so, you must take proper care of your eyes so that they can serve you well for a long time.
Eye problems are quite common. Many people experience it from time to time. Also, vision problems tend to increase as a person gets older. Most eye problems aren’t major ones, and they do not last long. However, some eye problems can be very problematic, resulting in major damage to the eyes, including blindness.
The good news, however, is that most eye problems, including the very serious ones, are preventable. This article discusses some common eye problems that can be prevented.
Dry eyes are usually very uncomfortable. They cause impaired vision and discomfort, and it usually happens in both eyes. Symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Stringy mucus in the eye
- Redness of the eyes
- A scratchy or itchy sensation in the eyes
- Blurry vision, eye fatigue, or watery eyes
- You may have the feeling that you’ve got something in your eyes
The primary cause of dry eyes is the lack of secretion of tears by the lacrimal glands. Tears are important for your eyes. They keep the eyes free from infection, moist, and healthy. The lack of tears in the eyes may be due to increased evaporation of tears or decreased production of tears. Factors that causes decreased production of tears are usually unavoidable and include:
- Underlying medical conditions
- Medical procedures
- A side effect of some medications
Some causes of dry eyes are treatable. A common example is “blepharitis.” Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids due to blocked glands. You can treat blepharitis by applying a warm compress to your eyelids, doing an eyelid massage, or washing your eyelids with baby shampoo.
It is possible to prevent increased tear evaporation. Common factors that cause increased tear evaporation include exposure to dry air, smoke, or wind. Dry eyes can be avoided by wearing sunglasses on dry, windy days. You should also put on goggles if you work in smoky, dry, or windy conditions.
You may also have dry eyes if you don’t blink enough. This is usually common among those that work on the computer, drive or read for a long time. You can prevent this by taking periodic breaks to give your eyes some rest.
You can also use eye drops to prevent dry eyes. A 2009 study by Eun Chul et al. found that cyclosporine and vitamin A eye drops can improve symptoms of dry eye. These drops are more effective compared to preservative-free artificial eye drops.
Dry eyes on their own aren’t harmful. However, it can cause complications such as eye damage, and eye infections. If you are constantly exposed to conditions that may trigger dry eyes, then take simple preventive steps such as washing your eyes gently with warm water and a soft cloth.
This condition is characterized by swelling or irritation of the outer part of the eye. This is usually in reaction to dander, pollen, mold, or other allergy triggers.
These allergy triggers release histamine into your eyes. The histamine causes swelling of the outer layer of your eye. This causes your eyes to become watery, itchy, or red. Other symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include:
- Puffy eyelids
- Burning sensation in the eyes
- A discharge from the eyes – the discharge usually has a stringy nature
- Blood vessels in the outer part of your eyes are widened.
You can prevent allergic conjunctivitis by avoiding potential triggers. Researchers have found that eye drops may help in preventing allergic conjunctivitis in people who are prone to allergies. Classic examples of these eye drops are levocabastine and emedastine. These antihistamines should be used after you’ve been exposed to a trigger.
A glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerves. The optic nerves are very important for good vision. Damage to the optic nerves is caused by excessive pressure in either one or both eyes. As the condition progresses, it leads to irreversible blindness. Glaucoma has hereditary tendencies, but it may also be caused by lack of exercise, eye injuries, or diabetes.
Common symptoms of glaucoma include:
- Tunnel vision
- Blurry vision
- Eye pain
- Patchy blind spots in your central or peripheral vision
- Redness of the eyes
Some cases of glaucoma are not preventable. However, you can take some steps to prevent the condition from getting worse. Treatment for glaucoma is very effective when administered early. According to research, the best prevention for glaucoma is to do frequent eye screenings and care. This is very important for people with diabetes.
You can prevent this condition with safe and regular exercise. This will reduce the pressure in your eyes. Also, use protective gear when playing sports or working with power tools that may put your eyes at risk of injury.
Macular degeneration due to aging
Another common eye condition is age-related macular degeneration. It is common in people who are above 50 years of age. Age-related macular degeneration causes damage to the back of the eye, resulting in an inability to see straight ahead. This condition leads to vision loss in either or both of the eyes, causing blurriness of central vision that grows larger over time. Objects in your path of vision become darker.
Although age-related macular degeneration may not cause total blindness, it can affect a person’s activities of daily living. Cloudy vision impairs one’s ability to:
- Recognize faces
- Do house chores
The primary cause of this condition is changes in the eyes due to aging. However, some people may have a higher risk for this condition compared to others. These include Caucasians, smokers, and people with a history of this condition in their families.
A 2009 study by Jennifer et al. has found a link between lifestyle choices and age-related macular degeneration. According to experts, the risk for this condition can be reduced by:
- Avoiding or second-hand smoke
- Regular exercise
- Eating healthily
- Keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure at normal levels
To prevent an eye problem, or stop its progression, you must pay regular visits to your eye doctor. Do not hesitate to call your doctor if you notice vision changes.
Ifiokobong Ene is a Medical Physiologist, and a freelance medical writer. Ifiok brings his years of medical research experience to help consistently create high-quality, and engaging articles and products that uphold the highest medical standards. He is dedicated to making health and wellness information available, actionable, and understandable so that readers can make the best decisions about their health.