Take care of your eyes

Vision loss is something that thousands of Canadians live with and thousands more are diagnosed with each year. In fact, according to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), about 50,000 Canadians lose their sight each year.

One of the biggest causes of vision loss in the country is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). CNIB estimates that 1.4 million Canadians live with AMD. These numbers are expected to grow.

“A demographic shift caused by our aging population has led to a mounting epidemic of vision loss in Canada,” their website states. 

Yet, the organization notes that up to 75 per cent of vision loss is preventable.

“The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the opportunity to minimize vision loss.”

Tips to prevent vision loss:

One of the best ways to prevent vision loss is to have your eyes checked regularly. Don’t wait until you suspect a problem. Some eye diseases can be detected early, which is one of the best tools you have.

A good diet is another way to preserve your eyes. Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in tuna and other fish, leafy greens like spinach and kale and lots of Vitamin C and A can help. Eating a good diet is especially important if you have diabetes.

With the abundance of time that we spend on computers and other devices, it is important to give our eyes a rest. This can help preserve our vision into the future. Some advocate for the 20-20-20 rule, which means every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.

As well, if you smoke be aware that both first and second-hand smoke can irritate and cause damage to the protective layer of your eyes.

In addition, ensure that the sunglasses you wear have UV-protection.

Advances in technology

As technology changes, Canadians with vision loss have more hope than ever before to regain their quality of life.

There are an endless number of e-readers that can enlarge the text, and some will even read the books out loud for users.

Web browsers also have the capability to enlarge text. There is software for your devices that can help keep you connected by making webpages easier to read or reciting the text on the page.

Other home tools have also been made with vision loss users in mind such as kitchen timers, alarm clocks, watches, closet organizers and so much more.

Plus, more and more are being developed every day. In Vancouver, at the Central Library, there has been an audio navigation experience installed where a smartphone app can help those with vision loss navigate their way around the building. There are plans to put such technology in place in other places such as airports and shopping malls.

Conclusion

Those with vision loss have tended to isolate themselves rather than seek help. But, as technology and medicine advances there is no reason that those suffering vision loss can’t enjoy the same quality of life. A good diet, regular checkups and some lifestyle changes can be the key to protecting your eyes.

Since 1946, the first week of February has been White Cane Week in Canada, drawing awareness of those living with vision loss.  To find out about White Cane Week activities in your community, visit their website

Written by Chandra Lye

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