Eye problems can lead to larger health issues that affect overall wellness. After all, the eyes are organs that are connected to other systems in the body. That’s why vision care is so important to maintaining holistic health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 93 million U.S. adults are at risk for vision loss, but only half of those people have visited an eye doctor in the past year. That’s despite the fact that a routine eye visit is covered under almost all vision insurance plans, and it means some people may be at risk for serious health issues and not even know it.
Here’s a closer look at how vision care affects the whole body and steps you can take to start improving eye health.
How does vision care affect overall health?
Eye problems that have gone undetected or untreated can cause partial vision loss or even total blindness. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that up to 80% of serious vision loss is avoidable through proper prevention.
Beyond these issues, however, eye conditions can also signal other health problems, including:
- Diabetes: High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the eye, causing long-term vision loss. Early detection of diabetes can also minimize risk of kidney failure.
- Hypertension: Eye twitches, strain, and blood vessel damage can be side effects of too much stress and high blood pressure, which can affect heart health.
- Cancer: Ocular melanoma can be detected by observing uncial growths within the eye. Brain tumors can be causes of vision loss, double vision, and abnormal eye movements.
- High cholesterol: Cholesterol can build up in your eyes, forming a grayish ring around the iris.
- Stroke: Blood clots can form in the back of the eye, indicating that a patient is at high risk for heart health issues such as stroke.
- Arthritis: Dry eye, blurred vision, and cataracts are common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that affects the joints.
- Multiple sclerosis: Optic neuritis, or a swelling of the nerves in your eyes, can be a side effect of multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the whole nervous system.
How can you practice better eye care?
Eye care is an important part of whole-body care. Just like proper diet and exercise can help prevent larger health issues, proper vision care can do the same. Having regular optometrist or ophthalmologist visits with a doctor in your vision insurance network is an important check-in with your overall health.
These are just a handful of ways to better care for your eyes:
- Schedule regular eye exams to spot health issues before they occur or worsen.
- Understand your family’s history of eye health.
- Eat leafy greens like spinach and kale, foods with omega-3 fatty acids like fish, and foods with vitamin C like oranges and grapefruit.
- Use protective eyewear when performing potentially dangerous activities or sports.
- Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays.
- Limit screen time or take frequent breaks to prevent eye strain.
- Avoid smoking, which can damage the blood vessels that deliver nutrients to your eyes.
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