Eye conditions & symptoms 4 min read

Are You More at Risk of Eye Disease?

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Your sight allows you to learn about the world around you, and it’s the one sense that people fear losing the most. Many eye conditions and diseases don’t show symptoms until it’s too late, so it can be incredibly helpful to understand the signs and whether you might be more at risk. Here we take a look at some of the lifestyle factors that might put you at higher risk of eye disease, and what you can do to protect your vision and eye health.

How does age affect your vision?

As you age, your body will naturally change and this might manifest itself in changes to your eye health and vision abilities. Children are typically more at risk of eye conditions such as myopia, which usually develops between the ages of 6-12.

It’s important to look out for signs such as eye rubbing, sitting closely to something or complaining of headaches, as this could indicate a vision problem. Similarly, if your child appears to be struggling at school, it could be due to their eyesight and not difficulties in learning.

Children are also susceptible to conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (squint). Both are treatable but it’s important not to leave it unaddressed, as it could lead to further complications.

As children get older, they will no doubt start to use digital devices more frequently. This could put them at higher risk of eye strain, or computer vision syndrome. Symptoms like tired, itchy eyes will soon subside on their own once the eyes have been rested, but it can help to take regular breaks from the screen.

Adults aged over 50 may start to become more at risk of eye diseases including glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. In most cases, these conditions are a natural by-product of the ageing process but each can be treated and managed.

Stay less at risk of developing eye disease and get a test with your local optician now!

Lifestyle factors that put you at higher risk

There are some lifestyle choices that will put you at greater risk of developing an eye disease. Smoking is a huge factor and often contributes to eye disease including cataracts and AMD, as well as optic nerve damage.

Similarly, spending too much time in the sun without the proper protection could damage your eyes. Overexposure to UV light is a contributing factor to cataracts and could cause photokeratitis. It’s important to wear sunglasses with a good e-SPF rating to protect your eyes.

Ethnicity and eye disease

It is not known why, but ethnicity can play a role in your risk of developing an eye disease. Those of African or Afro-Caribbean descent are thought to be more at risk of developing glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy than Caucasians.

Those of Asian ethnicity have an increased risk of developing a particular type of glaucoma, known as angle-closure glaucoma.

How to keep your risks low

You can reduce your risk of eye health problems by following a few simple steps. Firstly, it’s important to attend regular eye examinations. Typically you will be asked to visit an optician every 2 years, or more frequently if you have a history of eye health problems. Your optician will check your sight, but they can also look for small changes in your vision that could indicate a health issue.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of common eye conditions can help, so that you can recognise when something has changed. If you start to see spots, flashes of light or floaters, or you have frequent headaches, consider booking an appointment with your optician as soon as possible.

Above all, you can reduce your risk of eye disease by following a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet, to ensure your body is getting the nutrients and vitamins it needs!

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