“The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light.” Matthew 6:22
For those of us with vision we use our eyes daily to help us interpret and interact with the world. Often we take our sight and how our vision helps us for granted. It is important to care for our eyes so that we can continue to see the world around us.
Here are some common eye disorders to be aware of and some things you can do to help manage or prevent them.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. There are different types of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma being the most common. Fluid builds in the eye’s drainage glands, increasing eye pressure and damaging the optic nerve. Glaucoma rarely causes symptoms until it is severe which is why regular eye screenings are recommended. Also, there is no cure for glaucoma, but it can be controlled when caught early. Regular moderate exercise, such as walking, is thought to help prevent glaucoma.
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens and are a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Like heart disease, if you are lucky enough to live long you will most likely develop cataracts. However, there are some things you can do to that may help slow the progression of cataracts. Decrease exposure to ultraviolet sunlight by wearing sunglasses. If you have diabetes keep your sugar levels under control. Don’t smoke, and avoid the use of steroid medications when possible.
Macular Degeneration causes gradual deterioration of the macula. The macula is responsible for clear central vision or vision in your direct line of sight. Macular degeneration rarely causes total blindness because it does not affect peripheral vision. There are two types of macular degeneration, wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is more common and usually affects both eyes progressing slowly over time. Dry macular degeneration can progress to wet macular degeneration, but not always. Not smoking, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and supplements may help prevent dry macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration always begins as dry macular degeneration. Symptoms appear suddenly and progress rapidly. Wet macular degeneration is caused by abnormal blood vessel growth and fluid buildup in the back of the eye. Since wet macular degeneration always begins as dry, tips for preventing it are the same: don’t smoke, eat healthy, maintain a healthy weight, and consider supplements.
It is important to see your eye doctor regularly to screen for vision impairment or eye disorders. Also see your doctor any time you have symptoms such as blurred vision, changes in central vision, sudden onset of floaters, light flashes, eye pain, or changes in your ability to see color or fine detail.
Keep your eyes healthy and continue to draw light into your body and shine out to the world through.
Resources for eye health:
Understanding and Living with Glaucoma – Glaucoma Research Foundation
Aging and Your Eyes – National Institute on Aging
Reversing Macular Degeneration – Dr. Kondrot (this pdf has good information, but I’m not sure that it can actually reverse macular degeneration)
Cataract What You Should Know – National Eye Institute
Feature photo by Juil Yoon.