Save Your Sight

Ten Simple Steps to Help Prevent Vision Loss

Knowledge is power in the fight against vision loss. Here are ten simple things you can do to help protect your sight:

  1. Have your eyes examined regularly by an eye-care professional, and don't ignore changes in your vision.

    • Serious eye conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be present in your eye without any symptoms of eye disease. Other conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, can progress rapidly if left untreated. Early detection is important to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.
    • You may have a higher risk of developing vision loss if you have a family history of eye disease, light-coloured eyes and skin, are diabetic, overweight, over age 50 or a smoker.
    • Eye-care coverage varies by province. Consult your eye doctor to determine what is best for you, depending on your age, family history, existing eye conditions and risk factors.
  2. Quit for your eyes.

    • People who smoke are three to four times more likely to develop AMD, which is the number one cause of significant vision loss in people over 50 in Canada. Quitting now can reduce the risk.
  3. Get healthy.

    • Research has shown that a diet high in fats and low in nutrients (such as those found in fresh vegetables) may increase the risk of developing AMD. Increase your intake of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, fresh fruit and dark green leafy vegetables as they provide nutrients and antioxidants that are healthy for the macula.
    • Keep active: excess weight, a sedentary lifestyle and high blood pressure are all risk factors for AMD and diabetic retinopathy.
  4. Protect your eyes from sunlight.

    • Exposure to sunlight is associated with a higher risk of developing AMD and cataracts. Wear a hat with a brim, and choose sunglasses that provide at least 98 per cent protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays: check the vendor tag for the UV rating before you buy.
  5. Wear eye protection.

    • When playing sports or working with power tools, protect your eyes with Canadian Standards Association-approved safety glasses or goggles. You don't need a prescription for them, and most hardware and sporting-goods stores carry a good selection.
  6. Consider vitamin supplements.

    • If you are diagnosed with dry AMD, talk to your eye doctor about using a special formulation of high-dosage vitamin supplements that has been shown to be effective in lowering the risk of developing the advanced form of AMD.
  7. Prevent diabetes

    • Reduce your risk of many kinds of vision loss. Most people with diabetes are at a high risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and other vision problems.
  8. Managing diabetes (if you already have it)

    • Significantly lower your risk of diabetic retinopathy. It’s particularly crucial if you have Type 1 diabetes to control your blood pressure, sugar and lipid (fat) levels.
  9. Keeping drinking moderate

    • Lower the risk of developing cataracts, since heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages is a known risk factor.
  10. Using an Amsler Grid

    • Be more likely to catch wet AMD in the early stages, when it’s much easier to treat. Wet AMD causes significant vision loss, usually very quickly. The Amsler Grid – a test you can easily do at home – is highly recommended if you are over 50, have a family history of AMD or have dry AMD (which often progresses to wet AMD).