From the Parish Nurse

Article from the Parish Nurse

Dear Church Family,

I am tired of writing about COVID and I am sure you are equally as tired of reading about it. We can explore plenty of other health problems and how to keep them from causing us problems.

I thought I would start with recommendations from Johns Hopkins Medicine to help keep your eyes healthy. There is a list of common-sense things to do (or not do) that will help keep not just your eyes healthy, but the rest of you also. First, don’t smoke. Smokers have a 4x greater risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). Second, maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of cataracts and glaucoma. Third, wear sunglasses when it is bright out. A study done by Johns Hopkins showed a correlation between sun exposure and the development of ARMD and cataracts. Fourth on the list is staying physically active. This should promote good blood flow and nutrition to your eyes. Lastly, alcohol consumption should be kept in moderation or not at all. Other articles also stressed the need for a good diet, particularly filled with green leafy vegetables. The American Optometric Association in an on-line article Adult Vision: 19 to 40 Years of Age states “Protect eyes from short-wavelength visible light. Most digital devices and newer LED and fluorescent lights emit more wavelengths near the shorter, or bluer, part of the spectrum. High and continual exposure to these wavelengths can cause slow damage to the retina, which may result in problems like age-related macular degeneration later in life. Special glasses and lens coatings are available to block short-wavelength visible light.”

As we age there are some “normal” problems that arise. Presbyopia is a condition when the lenses of your eyes become less flexible. Focusing on close objects or reading print becomes difficult. Reading glasses and sometimes surgery can correct this.

It is typical for the production of tears to decrease in middle age. This can cause a stinging or burning sensation. This is treated with artificial tears eyedrops.

Cataracts are common as we age. The lens becomes cloudy or discolored. It seems like you are looking through a dirty window. Taking vitamin C and keeping your eyes safe from dangerous UV rays can help to prevent cataracts. Surgery is required to correct vision loss due to a cataract. The old cloudy lens is removed and a new clear synthetic lens is used to replace it.

Some more serious eye conditions can occur which can cause permanent loss of vision. Glaucoma is one of these. The pressure in the eye builds up due to the drainage system going haywire. The optic nerve is damaged and vision is lost. In many cases, if noticed soon enough, this problem can be corrected by eye drops. It is important if you have a family history of glaucoma to see your Ophthalmologist yearly to have your pressure checked. By the time symptoms occur from high eye pressure, irreversible damage has already occurred.

Macular Degeneration is another eye disease that often occurs as we age. It affects the macula (part of the retina). This area controls the center of your vision. It is characterized by straight edges looking wavy and blind spots in your central vision. Bleeding can occur in later stages, which will cause permanent vision loss if not treated quickly.

So, don’t skip that eye appointment, wear your sunglasses, and rest your eyes when they are tired so you can enjoy seeing the beautiful world God has created for you to enjoy!!

God Bless, Beth