It’s an inevitability that all of us eventually will develop cataracts. What is a cataract? It is when the lens and the eye gets gray and cloudy, vision slips, and then a five-minute outpatient laser procedure is required to sharpen visual acuity tremendously. So setting aside the cataract procedure which again everyone sooner or later will need, the key thing we can do is the prevent unnecessary surgery.
So how do we do that?
There are several key pointers:
1) When you’re doing work and projects around the house, you always want to make sure you have safety goggles on. Between hammering nails, sawing, chiseling and the various activities that we’re doing unfortunately things do fly into the eye. I personally will pull things out of a cornea; glass, metal, wood splinters, at least 10 times a week. Usually we’re fortunate that the things are superficial and we can remove them readily in the office, taking two or three to four minutes. Sometimes god forbid, these objects like the little piece of a head of a nail can penetrate all the way through the eye requiring major surgery in an operating room. These things are preventable with correct safety protection.
Interestingly especially with us in South Florida before and after the storm we see a tremendous uptick in the number of corneal injuries ocular injuries in general, why is that? Well, between putting up all the plywood, putting up the shutters, making all the preparations, the hammering, the sawing, the drilling, things tend to get into the eye. After the storm passes, the cleanup. Whether it’s removing the plywood, putting the shutters back to their normal position, removing all the trees and branches and debris, things fly into the eye. So while we’re in a rush to get ready for the storm, and we’re eager to clean up after the storm, instead of the usual maybe 10 eye injuries a week that I’ll see quite frequently, we’ll see 20 and as many as 40 just like we did before and after Hurricane Irma. This protection is super important.
2) There are certain physical activities where we know there’s a very marked increase in eye injuries such as playing paintball which people think it’s benign but it’s not. There are frequent eye injuries, bleeds to the eye, major trauma requiring surgery. BB guns, pellet guns, things of that nature penetrating injuries to the eye, sometimes, they’re even inoperable. So these activities, and I personally would include boxing in the list, with the tremendous blows to the eye retinal detachments can occur sometimes the retinal detachments are major and even those can be inoperable.
So there are certain activities that are considered “leisure activities” but it’s a definite danger to the human eye and one can prevent surgery by preventing these type of activities.
3) There are other things in the normal course of events, so for example when we’re outside during daylight hours, you always want to make sure you have sunglasses on, wearing sunglasses has direct effect on the incident survived cancer, which drops dramatically. That could require major reconstructive surgery to remove an eyelid tumor and the reconstructive process. There can be growths on the wall of the eye when they’re smaller they’re called Pingueculas, when they get larger they’re called Pterygium, which will start to grow over the eye, blocking vision that requires a major surgery tinting them out. Again, this is preventable, by having correct sunglasses protection. Other damages to the eye, from the sun as well, and with the sun protection it makes a huge difference.
4) Other things that are very helpful is for many systemic conditions such as diabetes. Diabetics are unfortunate in that the blood vessels can leak, when the blood vessels leak in the back of the eye that’s called either Diabetic Retinopathy or Diabetic maculopathy by keeping the blood sugars low; crucially important. There is a blood test that’s taken every three months for diabetics called the Hemoglobin A1C, again: Hemoglobin A1C. Keeping that level at a low level is hugely important, I’ll give you an example. With a Hemoglobin A1C level of eight, if someone is conscientious, they get the level down to seven, going from eight to seven is one percent decrease. while that might not sound a lot, what I like a lot, is that one percent decrease is a 30% reduction in chances of bleeding in the back of the eye. For diabetics it’s also important to have exercise and to be careful with dessert snacks and things like that.
5) Another thing that can result in procedures is Macular Degeneration – if god forbid there is bleeding in the back of the eye this could result in the necessity of shots called an Intravitreal Injection. There are a lot of preventative things for example, simply by not smoking, greatly decreases the chance of Macular Degeneration. Eating things such as fish, salmon in particular is very helpful, and then we’re working on digital devices having blue blocker can be helpful as well.
To summarize, there are a lot of preventative things that can be done and eye protection always has to be at the forefront of your mind. Being very conscientious and diligent can have a profound effect.
I’m encouraging everyone to please go to the website https://www.myeyesurgeons.com/
My partner, Doctor Nathan Klein and I are very avid believers in ocular preventive care and on our website you’ll see a section about it and many others that outline how to take care of your eyes.