About 248 million people worldwide suffer from some visual impairment, of which 39 million are blind and 245 million have low vision. The main cause of visual impairment is uncorrected refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism.
About 90% of people with eye problems live in developed countries and 65% are over 50 years of age.
Chronic diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration are the main causes of visual problems in people over 50. Despite these data, Dr. Mariona Darné, ophthalmologist at the Institut d’Oftalmologia Clínica Girona, points out that 80% of visual disabilities can be avoided or controlled.
Visual problems in developed countries are partly due to current unhealthy habits, but also to the increasing longevity of the population, since the older the person is, the greater the risk of suffering from an eye disease. To avoid vision loss and prevent the development of pathologies that may affect it, it is recommended to have a regular ophthalmological check-up, especially after the age of 40.
Prevention of eye diseases
It is advisable to develop healthy habits in our daily life, because although it may not seem so to us, they can have a great impact on the development of eye diseases. To prevent them, Dr. Darné recommends us:
- Quit smoking.
Smoking can increase the risk and accelerate the development of pathologies such as macular degeneration or cataracts. Several studies have shown that smoking affects the macula and the optic nerve.
- Healthy eating.
Diet also influences our ocular health. Some foods rich in vitamin A, C and E, antioxidants or omega 3 fatty acids, favor the care of the retina and slow the aging of the ocular structures. Therefore, they prevent age-related diseases. Fruit, fresh vegetables, oily fish, seafood and nuts are indispensable in our diet.
- Eye hydration.
The eye should always be well hydrated, since the inner part of the eye is made up of water. Blinking helps to hydrate the external part of the eye in a natural way, distributing the tear fluid. When we fix our gaze on a specific place, when reading or looking at a screen, blinking is reduced and causes eye dryness. Heating and air conditioning also have an influence. When the eye is not sufficiently hydrated it causes eye irritation and to avoid this it is recommended to drink plenty of water daily, blink more often and, in some cases, use lubricating eye drops.
- Protect your eyes from the sun.
It is very important to protect the eyes from the sun, especially in times when it is more abundant. To do this, we can resort to sunglasses with UV protection that are quality and approved. Non-approved sunglasses can be harmful to our vision.
- Use of screens and computers.
Computers do not cause blindness, but they do cause a series of discomforts and annoyances, such as visual fatigue. The light emitted by the screens can cause irritation, redness, itching, tearing, dry eyes and even headaches in the medium and long term. An important consequence of prolonged attention to the screen is decreased blinking.
Therefore, if you are a person who works daily at the computer or fixes your gaze on other screens, it is advisable to use a lubricating eye drop to avoid these discomforts.
- Visit the ophthalmologist.
To detect visual problems as early as possible, it is very important to have an ophthalmologic check-up every year after the age of 40, especially for those who have a family history of ocular pathology such as glaucoma or macular degeneration.