Our eyes are a lens on the world we live in. They are how we see our families and friends and the joy of the changing seasons. Keeping our eyes healthy is important.
In 2018, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS), revealed a majority of Canadians (59 %) experience symptoms of potential eye disease, yet only half of these people (54%) reported they had seen a health care professional. This is particularly concerning as early detection is key in preventing eye disease from progressing or resulting in vision loss or blindness. This is especially so as we age.
Says Dr. Phil Hooper, MD, FRCSC. “Regular, dilated comprehensive eye exams are important as some serious eye diseases produce no symptoms at all until they are very advanced.” According to COS, the majority of Canadians said they’d rather loose their hearing or even a limb, than lose their eyesight. “A common misconception is that regular eye exams are just to correct vision, but they are also key to the overall health of the eye,” says Dr. Hooper.
COS recently launched a website called See The Possibilities to help provide Canadians with insights and knowledge about better eye care. An easy to navigate site, the goal is to help Canadians feel more comfortable with getting eye exams and taking preventative measures for their eye health.
The research by COS also showed that Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in Canada1, yet the majority (51 per cent) of Canadians are not familiar with the disease or the severe damage it can cause. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in Canadians under 50 and diabetic retinopathy affects half a million Canadians2. Even with its strong prevalence in Canada, almost half (41 per cent) of Canadians have never heard of this disease and a third (34 per cent) only recognize the name but not the condition.
Tips for eye health
- Spend time on a computer? Be sure to take breaks every 20 minutes or so to reduce eye strain. Look away from your screens, preferably outside if you can during the day.
- Get regular eye exams, perhaps once a year or more as you age. This can help you catch issues such as glaucoma or cataracts starting.
- Eat foods high in vitamin C such as kiwi, strawberries, oranges and red bell peppers and those high in antioxidants such as grapes and blueberries. Also veggies like kale, spinach and of course, carrots.
- Wear those shades! Especially on high-sun days in summer and to reflect snow glare in winter. Snow glare can cause serious retinal damage, quickly.
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Author: Alex Hurst is a staff writer for HUM@Nmedia, the parent brand for Silver and Optimyz Magazines, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.