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Ocular Health, Maintaining Good Vision and Eyesight

The eyes play an important role in mobility, function, and enjoyment of life. For this reason, it is important to maintain good ocular health. (The term "ocular" refers to the eye and its organ system.)

The eye performs the sole task of capturing light. All different parts of the eye system then work together, connecting with neurons that transmit and translate messages directly into the brain as visual images.

Having good ocular health means that vision is at least 20/20 or better with or without correction and the eyes are disease-free. There are simple corrective and preventive measures to maintain good vision and enjoy lifelong ocular health.

Visit your doctor for regular check-ups and for any eye problems you experience.

Optometrists are trained specifically to determine and improve visual acuity with the prescription of eyeglasses, contact lenses, and eye exercises. Ophthalmologists can provide total eye care, from examinations and vision correction to the diagnosis and treatment of disease through medication and surgery. You should visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist for an eye exam once every year. See your ophthalmologist if you experience eye infections or symptoms of disease such as loss of or blurred vision, light flashes, eye pain, redness, itching, swelling, and irritation around the eye or eyelid.

Practice disease prevention.

Disease of the eye is the number one cause of blindness. Most diseases that cause blindness, like glaucoma and diabetes, can be treated or their progression slowed down with the proper diagnosis and management. While there is no cure for some eye disorders, there have been major medical advances for age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. By getting regular exams and discussing your family history, you and your doctor will be able to anticipate, better prevent, and treat eye disease.

Wear the correct prescription lenses, or consider corrective surgery.

Not wearing your prescribed eyeglasses or contacts will not cause disease of the eye, but it can cause discomfort by eyestrain, headaches, or possibly even injury brought on by the lack of safe vision. If wearing prescriptive lenses is uncomfortable, ask your doctor about alternatives, like switching from eyeglasses to contact lenses or exploring corrective surgery.

Protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of light and is a portion of the invisible part of the spectrum. Sources of this damaging light include sunlight, a welder’s flash, video display terminals (VDTs), fluorescent lighting, high intensity mercury vapor lamps (used for night sports and high-crime areas), and xenon arc lamps (used in laboratories).

Constant exposure to ultraviolet rays can result in photochemical eye damage. This UV exposure increases pigmentation in the eye, causing a discoloration known as "brown" or "sunshine" cataracts. Eye diseases such as macular degeneration, solar retinitis, and corneal dystrophies have all been linked to UV exposure.

Your eyes may be more photosensitive if they are light in color, if you are taking specific medications, or if you use artificial sweeteners. You can protect your eyes while out in the sun or indoors by wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses treated for UV absorption and by using protective work shields and screen covers that have an ultraviolet absorbing coating.

Wear protective gear and eyewear during work and sporting events.

Wearing safety glasses and protective goggles while playing sports or working with hazardous and airborne materials lowers your risk for eye injury, damage to vision, and complete loss of sight.

Being actively involved in your eye health and working with your optometrist and ophthalmologist increases your chances for maintaining good eye health and eyesight.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 11/14/2008…#8560