Top 5 Risks to Your Eyes

Author: John Parks

Your eyes serve you well every day and will continue to do so if you take care of them. The top five risks to your eyes can often be delayed or prevented by maintaining general health.


Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among Americans between the ages of 20 and 74. When blood sugar levels are not well regulated, excess amounts will damage the blood vessels of the body, especially those in the eyes. As a result, diabetics are more prone to develop cataracts, leaking of the blood vessels in the retina, macular edema (swelling of a portion of the eye), macular degeneration, glaucoma, and infections. Therefore, regular check-ups and close monitoring of blood-sugar levels are the first lines of defense in protecting a diabetic's vision.


As people grow older, they are likely to experience at least some vision loss, especially after the age of 50 and increasing with advancing age. Other physical ailments associated with aging will also affect the eyes, such as uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, retinal tears and detachment, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and presbyopia (far-sightedness) are some of the more common conditions that are encountered. Age-related vision loss may be so gradual that it gives no sign. Elderly people experiencing vision loss may not realize they have a problem until it begins impacting their everyday activities.


Smoking is harmful to the body in general but its deleterious effects on the eyes are not well known to the average person. Blood-oxygen levels decrease when a person smokes, making the heart work harder and raising blood pressure. As a result, the small blood vessels in the eyes become less efficient at delivering sufficient oxygen to the ocular tissues that require high levels of this vital gas. As a result, smokers experience higher levels of eye problems. Macular degeneration and cataracts are the two most common conditions associated with smoking. Even after quitting, smokers continue to face higher risks for them.

High Blood Pressure

Uncontrolled high blood pressure affects all body organs, including the eyes. Increased pressure in the blood vessels in the eye can lead them to develop small leaks or small clots. If blood leaks into surrounding eye tissue, especially in or behind the retina, destroying cells necessary for focusing one's vision. Formation of a clot can starve a portion of the eye of oxygen, resulting in vision loss. High blood pressure can be the result of heart disease, diabetes, unresolved renal disease, or other conditions. Contributing factors include smoking, being more than 30 percent overweight, being genetically predisposed, and having a sodium sensitivity.

Poor Nutrition

Good nutrition is necessary to keep the whole human body healthy, and the eye is no exception. Excess weight is associated with Type II diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Additionally, a lifelong unhealthy diet can accelerate or exacerbate the aging process. Insufficient amounts of anti-oxidants like vitamins A, C, and E have a devastating effect on the eyes. Consumption of inadequate healthy fats, such as the omega-3s, is also associated with eye conditions.

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