As we go through our day-to-day activities, we sometimes take our eyesight for granted. However, just like any other part of our body, our eyes are also prone to health problems that can affect our vision and overall quality of life. Whether it’s due to genetics, age, or lifestyle choices, anyone can develop an optical health problem at any time. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of common optical health issues many people face every day:

1. Near (or Short) Sightedness

If you’re having difficulty seeing objects that are far away and things seem blurry, you might be experiencing nearsightedness, also known as myopia. This condition is a common optical health problem, and it affects millions of people worldwide. Nearsightedness usually develops during childhood or adolescence, but it can also occur in adults.

Nearsightedness occurs when the light entering the eye doesn’t focus correctly on the retina but instead falls in front of it. Luckily, this condition is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses, which compensate for the visual distortion and help you see distant objects clearly. Here are some common risk factors associated with myopia:

  • Genetics: If one or both of your parents have nearsightedness, you have a higher risk of developing it.
  • Age: Myopia usually develops during childhood or adolescence, and the risk tends to decrease as you get older.
  • Health conditions: Some health concerns, like diabetes, may increase the risk of developing nearsightedness.

2. Farsightedness

Farsightedness or hyperopia is the opposite of nearsightedness. While people with hyperopia can see distant objects clearly, they may struggle to focus on objects close up. This condition tends to run in families and is usually present at birth. Additionally, farsightedness is a common occurrence that can affect people over the age of 40. Some risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing this condition include the following:

  • Family history
  • Age – it becomes more common as you get older
  • Health conditions like diabetes or multiple sclerosis
  • Eye injuries
  • Medications like antihistamines 

Fortunately, hyperopia is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses, which help adjust the focus of light entering the eye. For those over 40, bifocals or progressive lenses may be required, offering a range of focal points to help with both near and far vision.

3. Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a common refractive error caused by your eyeball not being perfectly round. Instead, it is shaped more like a football or the back of a spoon — different shapes cause different refraction and can lead to blurry or distorted vision. Many people with astigmatism experience darker areas or wavy-looking objects, which can cause significant discomfort. Again glasses can correct your vision if you have astigmatism.

While astigmatism can affect people of all ages, certain risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing it. These include factors similar to the ones mentioned previously, like genetics and eye injuries. Additionally, while this condition can develop at any age, it’s more common in children. 

4. Cataracts

Cataracts affect the lens of the eye, causing a build-up of protein that prevents light from being properly focused on the retina. This can result in blurred or cloudy vision and, in some

cases, can cause vision loss. While cataracts are more commonly associated with aging, they can also be caused by other factors, like health conditions or injuries to the eye. In some cases, babies may be born with congenital cataracts. If glasses can assist in correcting your vision, you will not require cataract surgery. If surgery is required, your cloudy lens will be replaced by an artificial, clear lens.

How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, one in seven Canadians have eye conditions that threaten their vision — so, if this is you, you’re not alone. It’s important to take steps to prevent vision loss and maintain the eyesight that you currently have. Here are some quick tips on how to keep your eyes healthy:

  • Schedule regular eye exams with an optometrist
  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet
  • Protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses
  • Take breaks when using digital devices
  • Avoid smoking

If you’re experiencing any changes in your vision, it’s essential to schedule an eye exam with an eye care professional. At Laurier Optical, our optometrists are here to assess your optical health needs and provide comprehensive care so you can continue seeing the world around you. Reach out to us today.