Thousands of Americans each year are diagnosed with some sort of eye disease and/or disorder. Whether it be a refractive error such as astigmatism, or a serious case of age-related macular degeneration, these eye diseases are costly for both our eyes and our wallets. However, by being aware of these diseases, you can take steps to prevent them.
Refractive errors are something that almost everyone have. Both nearsightedness and farsightedness are considered refractive errors, as well as astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances) and presbyopia (age-related farsightedness). The majority of refractive errors can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
Cataracts involve the clouding over of your natural lenses, leading to blurry or fogged vision and, if left untreated, blindness. They can develop at any age due to a variety of causes (even developing at birth), although they’re most common over the age of 40.
Age-related macular degeneration
Alongside cataracts, one of the most common eye disorders for people over 40 is age-related macular degeneration. This occurs in one of two ways. With Wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels develop underneath the macula (the center of the retina) causing damage and thus visions loss. With Dry AMD, the macula thins overtime, reducing and blurring central vision.
Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions in the US, causing diabetic retinopathy to be a common eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy occurs as a result of progressive damage to the retina’s blood vessels as a result of diabetes.
As the fluid in your eye builds up, the increased pressure causes damage to your eyes. This is what occurs with glaucoma. The result is substantial vision loss and blindness over time, although how quickly it occurs depends on the type of glaucoma you have. Open angle glaucoma progresses slowly without the person noticing; closed angle progresses much faster and is much more painful.
What can be done?
While many of these diseases occur as a result of genetics, there are still steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing one of these eye diseases. Taking good care of your health by eating healthy, managing your alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking are great first steps. You should also make sure you wear your sunglasses every day, as many of these diseases occur as a result of UV radiation from the sun.
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