Making Your Eye Health A Priority In 2024
Happy New Year 2024! Let’s start the year off right by taking care of our eyes. Our eyes are one of the most important organs in our body as they allow us to perceive around 80% of all impressions through sight. Every second, our eyes take in approximately 10 million pieces of information and send them to our brains to create visual impressions. The visible light that enters our eyes from the world around us is transformed by our brain into a sense of vision. Our eyes perceive the world slightly differently as they are positioned slightly apart, but our visual cortex corrects this to create one image. Your eyes are also crucial in protecting us from danger. If our other senses like taste or smell stop working, our eyes can still detect potential threats and keep us safe.
The Facts About Your Eyes
The CDC reports that 17.2 percent of Americans over 40 years of age have a cataract in at least one eye (about 20.5 million people. In the United States during the year 2022, approximately 12 million people aged 40 and above suffered from vision impairment, and about one million from blindness. Globally, the statistics are similar, with reports from the World Health Organization showing over 2.2 billion people with eye and vision problems. By the year 2050, the number of people with visual impairment or blindness will double.
This data suggests that many people will continue to experience eye diseases that could have a significant impact on an individual’s overall lifestyle. Therefore, the focus on vision health must be a priority. Our vision is important and a dominant sense. It is important to note that our eyes perform many tasks, and they are the entryway through which our brain can inform us about our world and learn new things, it is where data from your surroundings are collected and sent to the brain for processing.
Our eyes provide the information and the brain visualizes the image. Your eyes and brain are constantly doing all of this in a tiny fraction of a second. It is the most important sense that we must take care of, and make sure to do all that is feasible to protect and maintain healthy eyes. Our eyes can provide insights into our overall health. It is impacted by many organs. Stop and look around you and what do you see? Could you imagine a life without these vivid, instructional, and informational images?
Tips for Healthy Eyes (Source: Healthcare: Utah/University of Health)
- Schedule your annual eye exam. In addition to making sure your eyeglass or contact lens prescription is right for you (or if you need one), a yearly eye exam also offers your ophthalmologist an opportunity to detect the early stages of eye diseases. For example, diseases such as glaucoma are usually painless and can progress to critical stages before you even notice. Early intervention can make a big difference in many conditions.
- Wear UV-protective sunglasses year-round. UV damage from the sun accumulates over time. It can cause you to get cataracts at an early age and increase the risk of rare eye cancers. Sunglasses also help protect your eyes by blocking irritation and dryness caused by wind or blinding snow.
- Eat more eye-healthy foods. From Omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna to fresh fruits and dark green vegetables, what you eat directly affects your vision.
- Take your contacts out and give your eyes a break. Contact lenses are a great alternative to glasses, but they can sometimes be hard on your eyes if you leave them in for too long. Although today’s lenses are thinner, safer, and more comfortable than ever, extended wear may cause dry eyes and infections.
- Look away from the digital screen. When you’re focusing on a screen, it’s hard to remember to blink. As a result, your eyes may dry out and the muscles in your eyes can become exhausted from focusing. This causes eye strain. Your best bet is to follow the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something about 20 feet from your screen for 20 seconds.
- Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels. Your heart health directly affects the blood vessels in your eyes. High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels increase the risk of eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy. Take prescribed medications on time and follow precautionary measures to control these levels.
- Quit smoking. Did you know smoking puts you at more risk for developing eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts? It contributes to plaque building up in your bloodstream, weakening arteries, and increasing the risk of a heart attack. It can also damage your retina and cause vision loss.
Contact our office if you would like to discuss a 2024 eye plan or if you have any questions about your current eye health.