Eye health tips
Reducing your risk of eye disease
- Get your eyes checked: There may be no symptoms with serious eye diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Other conditions, like diabetic retinopathy, can progress rapidly if left untreated. Early detection ensures prompt diagnosis and treatment. Book a regular eye exam at least once every two years with an optometrist in your area.
- Protect your eyes from the sun: Exposure to sunlight is associated with a higher risk of developing AMD and cataracts. Wearing a hat with a brim and choosing sunglasses that provide at least 98% protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays can keep your eyes safe. Check the tag for the UV rating before you buy your sunglasses.
- Eat well and exercise: A diet high in fats and low in nutrients 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 to get nutrients and antioxidants that help keep your eyes healthy. Keep active because excess weight, a sedentary lifestyle and high blood pressure are all risk factors for AMD and diabetic retinopathy.
- Don’t smoke: People who smoke are three to four times more likely to develop AMD. Need another reason to butt out? Smoking is the number one cause of significant vision loss for people over 50 in Canada.
- Think eye safety: 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.
Check your vision with the Amsler Grid
This simple screening tool is used for monitoring for early signs of wet AMD. The Amsler test consists of a grid of evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines. A small dot is located in the centre of the grid for the person taking the test to focus on. While staring at the dot, look for wavy lines and missing areas of the grid. This test is especially helpful for monitoring vision at home.
The Amsler Grid is not a substitute for regularly scheduled eye exams, which should take place at least once every two years, and at least once a year after the age of 50. (You may need them even more often depending on your risk factors for AMD.)
- Download the Amsler Grid (PDF Format).
- Make sure you’re in an area with good lighting, and hold or post the chart at eye level at a comfortable distance. You may find it convenient to attach the grid to a wall and stand 12 to 14 inches away (generally a comfortable reading distance).
- If you wear glasses, keep them on. If you wear bifocals, use the bottom or reading portion of the lens.
- Cover one eye and look at the dot in the centre of the grid. Note how the lines and squares appear and whether or not there are any distortions or breaks in the lines of the grid. Also note if the centre dot, a part of the dot, or any of the lines disappear. Blurred or double images might not necessarily be abnormal. The use of progressive, lineless bifocals may introduce some distortion in the grid.
- Test the other eye in the same way.
- The whole process may take only 10 seconds. Check the grid daily, or as often as recommended by your eye care professional.
Remember, if you experience any of these changes, make an appointment with your eye care specialist immediately:
- Blurring or grey areas
- Distortion or wavy lines
- Holes or spots in any areas of the grid