Systemic Diseases and Eye Health and Vision

Best Practice Eyecare focusing on monitoring and educating patients.

Our Ophthalmic Nurse loves reminding everyone that the eyes are connected to the rest of the body. Systemic diseases are so often picked up by an eye examination. They truly are a window into your health!

At Best Practice Eyecare we focus on monitoring and educating patients about the effects of autoimmune diseases on the eyes such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus which cause inflammation in various parts of the eye, leading to problems ranging from dry eyes to cataracts, glaucoma, and even vision loss in severe cases.

A lesser-known fact is the effect of cardiovascular diseases on our eyes. Conditions such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can lead to a condition called retinal vein occlusion. In such cases, the veins that drain blood from your retina get blocked, causing a sudden blurring or loss of vision. However, this vision loss can be mitigated with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

In addition to regular eye examinations, it’s essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep your eyes in top condition. This includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.

According to the National Eye Institute, a diet rich in dark leafy greens, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, and fruits packed full of vitamins C and E can help promote eye health and slow down age-related vision issues.

Diabetic retinopathy, in particular, is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and a leading cause of blindness among working-age adults. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina due to high blood sugar levels.

Though not all people with diabetes develop this condition, the longer someone has diabetes, the more likely they are to get it. This makes effective diabetes management and regular eye checks an absolute must for individuals living with this condition.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can also cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, leading to hypertensive retinopathy. The changes this condition brings can range from mild to severe and eventually lead to vision loss if not addressed. Regular monitoring of blood pressure and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle are essential steps in preventing this condition.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, it’s estimated that around 1.2 million Australians are diagnosed with diabetes, and this doesn’t account for the thousands who are yet to be diagnosed.

Diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease related to diabetes, affects over 15 per cent of Australians with diabetes. This makes it one of the most common complications of diabetes, which underscores the need for regular eye exams and optimal control of blood sugar levels.

Like diabetes, hypertension is another systemic condition with implications for eye health. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that about 34 per cent of Australian adults have hypertension or are on medication for the condition. Hypertension can lead to hypertensive retinopathy, a condition that damages the blood vessels in the retina and is often detected during routine eye exams.

While these statistics may seem daunting, they serve as a reminder of the importance of eye health and the role that professionals play in preserving our vision.

Remember, eye health is a crucial part of overall well-being, so make it a priority and ensure you see your world in the best possible light.

Love your eyes? Get them checked.

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