The abundant wind and sun experienced by desert dwellers warrant special eye care precautions. Dry eye, a common concern that can range from mild symptoms of irritation to severe discomfort and even scarring, certainly benefits from the use of preservative-free, over-the-counter lubricating eye drops.
“Exposure to ultraviolet light is an important factor in the development of cataracts and macular degeneration,” says Bart P. Ketover, ophthalmologist and cataract specialist at Milauskas Eye Institute. “If you spend time outdoors, you should definitely wear UV sunglasses, without a doubt.”
There’s some relief in knowing that cataracts – yet another of the top five most common eye problems – are reversible with surgery. In this regard, cataracts differ significantly from glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration. “Cataracts aren’t harmful, so if you don’t detect them early on, you won’t have caused any permanent damage,” Ketover says. In fact, cataract removal is one of the most successful surgeries in the United States.
While aging is certainly the cause of many eye-related problems, other health issues can weigh just as heavily. Chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the retina. “Diabetes can cause the retina to swell or bleed, and it can literally block people’s central vision,” says Le-Nguyen.
Proactivity seems to be the key word in maintaining good eye care. It’s about taking simple steps like wearing goggles or even a hat. This may include applying lubricating eye drops to prevent dry eyes. This most certainly involves scheduling regular visits with an ophthalmologist to closely monitor the possibility of conditions that can cause irreversible damage.
Finally, as in all things, the importance of maintaining good overall health should never be underestimated. An ounce of prevention can go a long way in ensuring your vision outlives you.
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