KAWARTHA LAKES-The vast majority of Canadians say vision loss is their most feared disability, yet 60 per cent experience symptoms of potential eye disease – and only half will see a healthcare professional about these symptoms, according to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. And during Vision Health Month in May, they are urging Canadians to prioritize their eye health with a visit to an eye health professional.
“Many people may be putting off getting their eyes checked, particularly right now because of Covid, but it’s not a good idea as eye issues can worsen quickly,” said Dr. Colin Mann, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. “Considering that some serious eye diseases have no symptoms, often until it’s too late, raising awareness and encouraging regular testing is important to help save Canadians’ vision.”
For example, a person with glaucoma can lose as much as 40 per cent of their sight without any noticeable symptoms. It is also the leading cause of irreversible blindness that affects more than 800,000 Canadians, half of whom don’t even know they have it. Other serious eye diseases include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy, all of which currently affect 1 in 6 Canadians. The good news however is that, if caught early enough, ophthalmologists can treat or prevent vision loss in 75 per cent of cases, providing life-changing impacts on patients and their families, including regained independence and quality of life.
In addition to getting regular eye exams, Canadians can also ensure they protect their vision by following these tips:
- Take a risk assessment. One of the first steps to protecting your vision is to learn more about your risk for developing one of the ‘big five’ eye diseases. Start by taking the quiz at seethepossibilities.ca.
- Wear the right sunglasses. UV rays are harmful to your eyes and are also linked to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. They can also be present on cloudy days, so wear sunglasses whenever you are outdoors to protect against long-term sun damage, and look for 100%, or UV400, coverage.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. While genetics can play a role in certain eye diseases, healthy lifestyle habits can also help protect your vision. Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly all have positive impacts
- ‘Play’ it safe. Wear proper safety equipment that meets the standard requirements for sports, such as face masks or goggles, which should be made of polycarbonate material as it resists shattering.
- Get regular eye exams. Even if you don’t have any immediate issues with your eyes, it’s still a good idea to have regular eye examinations with your ophthalmologist or eye care professional.
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents.