The retina is a small piece of tissue that is found at the back of the eye, and its primary function is to send images to the brain after capturing light. Even though quite a bit can be done to protect your retinas, hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with retinal diseases every year. When left untreated, these diseases can result in permanent eye damage, vision loss, and blindness. Here is a look at some of the most common risk factors for retinal diseases and a few steps that you can take to protect your eyes.
Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Problems
Practically any health condition that impacts your cardiovascular system will also impact your eyes. Your eyes are very sensitive to changes in your blood pressure, and that is one of the reasons why those who have high blood pressure suffer from much higher rates of macular degeneration. The most effective way to improve your cardiovascular health is to stick to a healthy and nutritious diet that primarily consists of fresh produce, healthy fats, lean sources of protein, and complex carbohydrates.
When your cholesterol levels spike, you have an increased risk of vein occlusions in the eyes. Those occlusions can permanently impact your vision if your cholesterol isn’t brought back under control. The plaques that are associated with high cholesterol can also make their way into your eyes and permanently damage your retinal vessels. Your cholesterol levels are partially dictated by your genetics, but your diet plays a role as well. Eating plenty of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids can increase your HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels and suppress your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels.
Cutting out all tobacco products is another great way to reduce your risk of developing a retinal disease. Over time, tobacco products can permanently damage some of the vessels and nerve endings in your eyes. Smoking also increases your blood pressure and makes it difficult to reduce your LDL levels. There are now dozens of nicotine products on the market that can reduce your cravings, including patches, lozenges, and gums.
Direct sunlight can damage your retinas as well as your skin. UVA and UVB rays will eventually cause microscopic tears in your retinal tissue, which usually results in unnecessary vision loss. Wearing sunglasses and wide brim hats whenever you go outside will help prevent those tears from taking place. When purchasing sunglasses, make sure that the lenses block at least 99 percent of all UVA and UVB rays.
Those who have high myopia generally struggle to see objects that are far away, and you can’t control your degree of myopia through lifestyle changes. This condition has been tied to retinal tears and many other serious vision problems. That includes retinal detachments and chronic eye strain. Patients who have high myopia should immediately contact one of our eye doctors if they notice any other unusual eyesight problems such as “floaters” in their vision.
Our team can help you come up with a comprehensive plan to preserve your vision and reduce your risk of retinal diseases. Please contact our team today to schedule your next eye exam, (800) 708-8800.