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Ophthalmology Health Check- Preventative Health Care

Ophthalmology Health Check- Preventative Health Care

Preventative efforts may play a role in certain eye diseases. Take cataracts for example. There is thought to be an association between one's diet and cataract formation. For example, an Oxford University study showed that vegans and vegetarians had a lower risk of developing cataracts than their meat eating counterparts. Furthermore, The Melbourne Visual Impairment Project revealed that the development of cataracts was associated with an individual's total carbohydrate intake. Similarly, it was determined that those whose diets were lowest in fat intake demonstrated fewer cataracts than individual's whose diets were highest in dietary fats.

Tobacco use has also been shown to increase cataract formation by a staggering 72%. This dramatic elevation is thought to be associated with increases in serum cadmium levels which activate a chemical known as super oxide dismutase. The elevation in this substance appears to enable the oxidation process of the lens. These studies have been shown to demonstrate that there is a strong correlation in lifestyle preferences and the presence of cataract formation. Therefore, if would be safe to assume that preventative measures such as consuming a healthy diet and avoiding smoking cigarettes may stave off the developing of cataracts.

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD is one of the leading causes of blindness and its incidences are rising. A study known as the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study or CAREDS, found that women who reported participating in the most exercise had a 46% reduction in the development of AMD. Furthermore, those who avoided cigarette smoking and who consumed the healthiest diets were as much as 71% less likely to develop macular degeneration. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, as evidenced by this study may have a substantial preventative impact on the development of age-related macular degeneration. Obesity has also shown to be a risk factor in AMD. People who are considered overweight may face up to a 50% increase in the development of AMD compared to people whose weight is considered within normal limits. In addition, people whose blood tests revealed the highest amounts of vitamin C had a decreased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, compared to those who had the lowest levels.

Atherosclerosis has been associated with high levels of cholesterol as well as a significant risk factor for cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. In addition, atherosclerosis may also play an important role in development of age-related macular degeneration. Individuals who were found to have plaque buildup in their carotid arteries had a higher incidence of AMD. Also, people who frequently ate red meat also increased their risks for macular degeneration. Their likelihood of developing macular degeneration was almost 47% higher than people who consumed red meat less often.

Another lifestyle factor that might contribute to the development of macular degeneration is exposure to sunlight. It has been shown that people who have spent in excess of five hours hours per day in the sun during childhood might have a greater risk of almost twofold as they become adults. In these people, reducing sun exposure and wearing sunglasses or hats for at least a portion of the time they spend in the sun may play a role in the prevention of this ocular condition.

The preventative medicine concept is not new to the field of ophthalmology. It is important to note, however, that prevention is not the same as early detection. Early detection can help stall the progression of certain existing eye diseases, however, preventative health care and counseling programs are aimed at actual disease prevention. The patient should discuss methods of disease prevention with his ophthalmologist who can development a plan which may influence the development of many common eye diseases.