Blindness is Preventable with Treatment and Good Health

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By Nyesha Stone

In life, as people become older the weaker their body may become, and eyesight is no exception. February is Low Vision Awareness Month, so, Dr. Judy E. Kim, an ophthalmologist in the greater Milwaukee area, wanted to get the word out about common treatable conditions that could lead to blindness.

Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD) is an age-related condition that is treatable. But what is it exactly? Wet AMD is a chronic eye disorder that causes blurred vision and blind spots, said Dr. Kim. Most people 50 and over have some type of form of Wet AMD.

In Wet AMD, new blood vessels grow in the area of connecting tissues called choroid, which is near the retina. Eventually the vessels get weak and fluid begins to leak into retina. This can cause retina cells to stop functioning, which in turn affects an individual’s sight.

But according to Dr. Kim, “Blindness can be prevented in many instances if things are caught early.” She stated that Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is currently the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. DME is another eye condition but can only occur in individuals who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

When someone has a form of diabetes it means that their body is producing high amounts of blood sugar, but their body isn’t able to properly break it down. When the body has to deal with constant high amounts of blood sugar, small blood vessels can get damaged, including the ones in an individual’s eyes.

But, just like Wet AMD, DME can be treated with different types of medication and keeping one’s health up to par, said Dr. Kim.

“It’s always a good idea in life to eat healthy and keep healthy weight,” said Dr. Kim to those wondering how they can prevent conditions such as these. Wearing sunglasses when it’s bright outside is another preventative tactic to take.

A common eye condition, which can happen to anyone is “floaters.” These are black specs someone may see in their vision. According to Dr. Kim, as we get older the jelly inside of our eyes becomes loose. She said not to worry if you have them, unless you see new ones.

Dr. Kim suggests regular visits to the doctor for eye examination, and if you’re worried somethings wrong, there’s help out there.

Getting older is inevitable. However, just because you gain years doesn’t mean that your health has to deteriorate. One of the keys to living a long life is making the right choices when it comes to what we eat and what we do. Although it’s hard to imagine, the decisions we make today could impact us tomorrow and, in the years to come, both physically and mentally. So many illnesses and diseases such as diabetes are preventable.

During Low Vision Awareness Month, take the time to get your eyesight tested and learn more about how healthy living can help you.

This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Courier.

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