Skip to main content
Family Files

The Importance of Eye Health

Did you know that the eyes are the only organ in our body most exposed to our external surroundings? Due to this reason, people must understand the importance of taking care of their eyes and what they can do to ensure their vision is not jeopardized. Our sense of sight is vital out of all our senses because about 80% of the things we perceive from our surroundings are through our sight. Awareness of the dangers of the various conditions that can develop in the eyes is key to know about. Tips and techniques about taking care of your eyes will also help prevent these conditions from happening and potentially save a trip to the doctor!

Some of the consequences that can result if people do not properly care for their eyes can be that they can develop cataracts, infections, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and potentially vision loss. The list is endless, and all these conditions can affect a certain part of an individual's vision, if not all of it. If people do not take the precautions needed to take care of their eyes, it can end up leading to negative outcomes that affect their overall health as well. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it mentions that vision loss not only affects eye health but the overall health of an individual. It can affect one's quality of life, independence, and mobility. This can lead to resulting in external injuries such as falls. It can also affect one's mental health, cognition, social functioning and get in the way of job opportunities and education. This can affect brain health because typically when an individual loses either some or all of their vision, there tends to be a decrease in physical and social activity. In order to sustain a healthy brain, physical and social activity is important, and without these, it can lead to cognitive decline.

Other conditions which solely affect eye health, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, can also impair vision. Cataracts are essentially a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which leads to vision loss. Some cases can be extreme to the point of blindness. Macular degeneration is a disease in which the macula of the eye begins to deteriorate, which also results in vision loss or complete blindness. This can also happen due to age. These conditions result from UV exposure and lifestyle habits, and they can be preventable if the proper precautions are taken.

Infections and glaucoma can also result if individuals are unaware of their eye health. Many conditions can develop if a person is careless. Infections can range from being very severe to common. One of the severe infections that can result is called Endophthalmitis. This infection causes the intraocular cavities in the eye to inflame. These affect the tissues and fluids in the eye, resulting in blindness if not treated immediately. There are two types of endophthalmitis, exogenous and endogenous. Exogenous endophthalmitis results from bacteria or fungi that enter the body from the outside. It enters the eye through surgery or an eye injury. Endogenous endophthalmitis results when the infection enters a different part of the body and spreads to the eyes. Glaucoma is when there is damage to the optic nerve. Since the nerve is damaged, the nerve begins to deteriorate, which develops blind spots in a person's vision and, eventually, if not taken care of, can lead to blindness. Nerve damage tends to happen due to increased pressure in the eye. Diabetes usually tends to lead to the development of glaucoma in individuals.

Many conditions lead to deterioration of eye health. Luckily, there are preventative measures that people can take to ensure their eyes are healthy. One of the most important things that an individual can do to take care of their eyes is to protect them from UV exposure. Wearing sunglasses is highly recommended to limit the levels of UV that the eyes take in. If an individual is part of a sport that can result in an eye injury, it is advised to wear protective eyewear to make sure the eyes are not impacted. Another way to improve eye health is to avoid smoking. Smoking can affect an individual's overall health, and it also affects the eyes. It tends to increase the risk of developing age-related eye diseases. Smoking can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts, and damage to the optic nerve. Eye health can also be impacted by your diet. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of diabetes. Diabetes puts individuals at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. If an individual wears contacts, proper cleaning and contact care help reduce the chance of infections. Lastly, it is imperative to get your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist yearly so they can catch anything that is not normal and treat it instantly. Being aware of ways to take care of your eyes is essential because sight truly is a gift.

Authored by: Anum Paya, Family Life Intern, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign