3 Health Conditions Affecting Your Eyes by Jordan Stanley, MD

July 30, 2019

Dr. Jordan Stanley is an ophthalmologist, glaucoma specialist, and cataract surgeon at the Marietta Eye Clinic.

The board-certified ophthalmologists at the Marietta Eye Clinic and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend adults get a complete eye examination at various frequencies based heavily on age and certain health conditions. If you fall into one of the three health groups below, you need to take an aggressive approach to ensuring optimal eye health and vision throughout your lifetime.

Adults With Diabetes

If you have a diabetes diagnosis, please review the following information on steps you should take to ensure your vision and eye health remain optimal. First, individuals who develop diabetes mellitus type 1 should be examined by an ophthalmologist 5 years after disease onset and at least yearly thereafter. Second, individuals who develop diabetes mellitus type 2 should be examined at the time of diagnosis and at least yearly thereafter. Third, women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should receive a comprehensive eye examination before conception and then early in the first trimester of pregnancy. Recommended intervals for subsequent examinations depend upon the level of retinopathy.

Adults With High Blood Pressure

Often, high blood pressure alone will not affect your vision much. However, hypertension is a known risk factor in the onset or progression of other eye disease such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. Additionally, hypertension can also be a factor in the onset or progression of blocked veins and arteries in the retina or nerve of the eye. Blocked veins and arteries severely affect vision. If the blood pressure is very high it can be called malignant hypertension and cause swelling of the macula and acute loss of vision. Otherwise hypertension can cause progressive constriction of the arterioles in the eye and other findings potentially affecting your eye health and vision.

Adults With Family History of Eye Disease

If you have family members with eye disease, you could be at a higher risk of developing those diseases as well. Glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye diseases can be genetic. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, having a family member with glaucoma makes you four to nine times more likely to develop this disease. Glaucoma is a serious condition and when left untreated leads to blindness.

According to the National Eye Institute, age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of severe and irreversible vision loss in people over the age of 50. When the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates the center of your field of view may appear blurry, distorted, or dark. Catching signs of this early are vital to maintaining the ability to see clearly.

Cataract is a condition where the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy causing many visual problems such as blurred vision, difficulty driving at night, and needing more light for daily activities such as reading. This is a common condition such that the National Eye Institute projects nearly 40 million Americans will have cataracts by 2030.

Knowledge and Prevention

You can see how important routine care is as we age and at all ages when certain health conditions exist. Your community ophthalmologists strongly encourage you to get to know your family history as much as possible, know your own health status, and empower yourself to take control of keeping your eyes healthy and vital your entire life. Your quality of life is dramatically impacted by this intricate and complex part of your body.

References and Additional Resources

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. They describe themselves as a “global community of 32,000 medical doctors who protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.”  Their website is a great resource to learn more about how to care for your eyes.

Ask Your Family About Their History of Eye Disease

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/family-reunions

Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts

Cataracts Defined

https://nei.nih.gov/eyedata/cataract

How does high blood pressure affect vision?

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/ask-ophthalmologist-q/how-does-high-blood-pressure-affect-vision

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