I’m an eye expert – the four most common conditions and how to prevent them

WE’VE all heard that eating carrots helps us see in the dark, but the health of our eyes is often overlooked.

Among those over 50, damage to the retina – a thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eyes – is one of the most common threats to our eye health.

Alex Ionides said: ‘You should have an eye exam every two years to detect the conditions’Credit: Shutterstock

The eyes are one of our main organs, but information about keeping them healthy can be scarce.

Today Sun on Sunday Health takes a look at common eye conditions with the help of Alex Ionides, a leading surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

He explained: “Eye problems can account for 5-10% of GP visits, but medical practices don’t have the equipment to deal with them.

“That’s why you should have an eye exam every two years to check for conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma or retinal problems, which can lead to blindness.

“Some conditions are treatable but others, unfortunately, are not. However, there are many things you can do to keep your eyes healthy, just like you would the rest of your body.

“My rule of thumb is that what’s good for the heart and the brain is good for the eyes too, which means maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating well to minimize the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Here Alex breaks down four of the most common eye conditions in the UK. . .

Damage to the retina (macular degeneration): The retina lines the inside of the eye, like wallpaper.

And the macular is the central part that looks at people’s faces, the writing on a page or the clock on a wall, for example.

When this is damaged, you lose your central vision, making it difficult to see fine details, near or far.

It usually affects people in their 50s and 60s.

There is no cure, but treatment with injections can slow the disease.

A healthy diet for the eyes can protect the macula.

You should eat a high concentration of carotenoids – the pigments found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

This is where the old adage that carrots are good to see in the dark comes from – and it’s true.

Naturally, red, orange, and yellow foods are packed with carotenoids, as are garlic, red cabbage, and green leafy vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and spinach.

Cataracts: This is when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy, causing your vision to be cloudy.

When we are young, the lens of our eye is like looking through transparent glass, but with age it deteriorates.

Cataracts develop in half of people over 50 and 100% of people over 80 and can eventually lead to blindness.

They are not preventable but can be treated with one of the most common NHS operations, which is to implant a new lens.

People can be genetically predisposed to cataracts, and the risk is significantly higher for smokers.

UV light also has a role to play, so it is advisable to wear sunglasses on sunny days.

Dry eyes: Tears are made up of mucus, water and oil.

There are about 200 glycoproteins in mucus, which cling to the cornea and act like a sponge, soaking up water in our eyes.

This water produces tears, which are full of our own antibodies and good bacteria, so good gut health can contribute to good eye health.

However, everyday events, including central heating, air conditioning, cold winds, and staring at screens, can cause them to evaporate, contributing to dry, stingy, itchy, and red eyes.

Over-the-counter drops can help replenish moisture.

And many contain antioxidants to mimic those antibacterial qualities we naturally create.

Glaucoma: Four percent of people over 40 are at risk of developing glaucoma, where the optic nerve – which connects the eye to the brain – is damaged.

Symptoms may include blurred vision or seeing rainbow-colored circles around bright lights. B

Both eyes are usually affected.

It should be detected during a routine eye exam.

Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure – not blood pressure – in the eye.

The optic nerve is like a BT cable with 1.2 million telephone lines going through it, and glaucoma knocks them out one by one, so your field of vision is increasingly lost.

It can be treated with laser or surgery as well as daily eye drops.

  • Alex Ionides is an ophthalmologist and consultant for eye care specialist brand MTHK (Make Technology Human Kind).
Alex Ionides is an ophthalmologist and advisor to specialist eye care brand MTHK

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