Keeping Your Eyes Healthy: 5 Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Most people take their eyes for granted. After all, they’re one of the most essential organs in our bodies, and we use them daily. But how many people are paying enough attention to their eyes? How many people know the signs that something might be wrong?

Signs You Should See Your Doctor

According to the reports, out of the 93 million adults in the U.S. at serious risk for vision loss, only half had a doctor’s visit in the past year. And that’s a problem because early detection is key to preventing vision loss.

The following signs show you need to have your eyes checked asap.

1. You Have a Family History of Eye Disease

Genes play a role in eye diseases. Suppose you have a family member with glaucoma, macular degeneration, or another eye condition. In that case, you may be at increased risk for developing the same disease.

Glaucoma, for instance, is hereditary, and the risk of developing it rises if a close blood relative has the disease. In glaucoma, the pressure in the eye gradually increases, damaging the nerve that connects the eye to the brain. Without treatment, this can lead to blindness.

Macular degeneration, on the other hand, is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65. The disease affects the eye part responsible for central vision, called the macula. Your genes can play a role in whether or not you develop macular degeneration, but other factors, such as exposure to sunlight and smoking, can also increase your risk.

2. You Have Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition wherein your body cannot properly process sugar. This can lead to a host of problems, including damage to the blood vessels in your eyes.

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness in adults. This happens when the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, becomes damaged. This can cause various symptoms, including blurred vision, dark spots, and difficulty seeing at night.

3. You Have High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is another condition that can damage the blood vessels in the eyes. This is often called the “silent killer” because it doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it’s too late. But one of the early signs of hypertension is changes in your vision.

You might experience blurry vision, headaches, or even nosebleeds. Some people also report seeing “floaters,” which are small, dark spots that seem to float in your field of vision.

4. You Have Allergies

Some people don’t know that allergies can affect their eyes. But it’s true! Allergies can cause eye problems, including itchiness, redness, and watering.

With seasonal allergies, you might notice that your eyes are especially bothersome during certain times of the year. For instance, if you’re allergic to pollen, you might find that your eyes are watering and itch more in the spring. When partnered with allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, allergies can make your eyes feel especially itchy and irritated.

5. You Experience Eye Pain, Swelling, Halos, or Changes in Your Vision

Eye pain can signify uveitis, an inflammation of the eye’s middle layer. This serious eye condition can result in vision loss if not treated promptly.

Other warning signs include swelling or redness in the eye, halos around lights, blurred vision, or difficulty seeing at night. Know that these are not typical symptoms and usually require immediate medical attention.

When to See Your Doctor

Some people brush off early signs of vision problems, thinking they’ll go away on their own or that they’re not a big deal. Others will skip eye checkups even if they experience new symptoms, even with their family’s health history and their own existing medical conditions.

woman getting her eyes checked by a doctor

If you can relate to the signs mentioned before, consult with a doctor. A trained professional can check for signs of disease and help you get the treatment you need to manage any underlying conditions. Your doctor can also give tips for protecting your eyes from further damage.

Let’s say you have the classic signs and symptoms of a person with rhinitis and conjunctivitis. Consult an allergist, a professional who is an expert in treating seasonal allergies and can provide the correct diagnosis based on your signs and symptoms. They may require additional tests to check your triggers and formulate a treatment plan so you can avoid your allergy triggers and better manage your condition. You only need to find a reputable allergy clinic run by renowned allergists to start your treatment.

However, if your symptoms include eye pain, swelling, vision changes, and halo, it’s best to consult an eye doctor the soonest time possible. This is especially true with diabetes and hypertension patients or those with family members who have eye problems. Eye specialists like ophthalmologists can thoroughly check your eyes and prescribe the proper medication to manage your condition.

Eye care should be a top priority, especially as you age. Be sure to have regular eye exams and to see your doctor if you experience any new or worsening symptoms. You can help keep your eyes healthy and avoid vision problems down the road with early detection and treatment.

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