Exercise For Your…Eyes?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help your heart, energy levels, and waistline. But did you know that it can also benefit your eyes? Eye diseases are often times linked to other health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular exercise can help prevent these diseases, or at least limit their impact if they occur or if you’re already dealing with them.

Exercise can help those with glaucoma (by reducing intraocular pressure and improving blood circulation to the retina and optic nerve), age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, as well as other diseases that can affect vision. And you don’t have to compete in ironman races or marathons; even a brisk walk, climbing stairs or dancing three times a week can benefit you. So make time for that walk or hike — your eyes will thank you.

Beware of Cataracts

Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and blindness worldwide. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies in the middle part of the eye that helps to focus light onto the retina (light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). The most common symptoms of a cataract are blurry vision, sensitivity to light and glare, and increasing difficulty with night vision. Symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new glasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is an option that involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant, thus allowing light to properly enter the eye again.

Risk factors for cataracts include age, diabetes, excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation, prolonged use of corticosteroid medications, and smoking. Cataracts can affect the center of the lens (nuclear cataracts), the edges of the lens (cortical cataracts), and the back of the lens (posterior subcapsular cataracts). Although most cataracts are related to aging, other types of cataracts include secondary cataracts (from health problems like diabetes or due to steroid use), traumatic cataracts (after an eye injury), and congenital cataracts (present at birth).

Have your eyes examined yearly. Your optometrist will perform a dilated eye exam including a visual acuity test and refraction to assess your risk for a cataract and discuss appropriate treatment options.

Yearly Eye Exams Can Detect Serious Health Problems

Regular, comprehensive eye exams are not just for eye sight correction.  They can detect symptoms that a regular doctor visit won’t catch and may uncover serious medical conditions before other symptoms manifest.

The eyes are the only place where a doctor can see blood vessels without an invasive procedure.  Inflammation, small blood clots or swelling within the retina are signs of serious health problems that can be easily observed in an eye exam.  In fact, eye doctors routinely detect hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetes in their early stages.  On rare occasions, brain tumors have even been diagnosed through routine eye dilation.

Prevention and early detection are the best medicine so be sure to get your eye examined on a regular basis.