Senior citizens do not infrequently have issues with their vision like a sudden dark spot appearing before the eye or a short-lived loss of vision. These are very alarming symptoms. Loss of vision permanently is a very catastrophic event and needs to be prevented at all costs. In order to prevent such episodes, one has to understand the underlying problems which need to be kept in mind and controlled aggressively.
Heart and eye have an intimate relationship. Several cardiovascular conditions can lead to issues with your vision. These conditions are:
High Blood pressure: It can lead to damage to the main nerve of the eye (optic nerve) leading to loss of vision. It can also lead to damage to the blood vessels of the retina and weakening of the wall of the vessel leading to aneurysm and bleeding inside the eye. Poorly controlled BP can lead to glaucoma, a potential cause of blindness because of increased intraocular pressure.
Age related macular degeneration is more common in patients with atherosclerotic heart disease which can present as angina, heart attacks etc.
Evidence is accumulating that there is a relationship between heart disease and cataracts. Patients who have had cataract surgery in the past have higher mortality from a heart attack or a stroke.
Coexistence of diabetes, present in at least 20% of our elderly population has an additive adverse effect. This can lead to diabetic retinopathy, deposits of lipids and haemorrhages in the retina and even detachment of retina, a very serious vision threatening issue.
High cholesterol levels can compound the issues of retinopathy.
Measures to improve Eye and Heart health:
Cessation of smoking: Smokers should come out with a plan to stop smoking. It is never too late.
Regular Exercise: A minimum of 30 to 60 minutes’ walk or a total of 15 mins per week.
Losing weight for overweight and obese people.
Ensuring a good sleep for at least seven hours.
Stress management: It is an important part of this holistic measure of preserving good sight and healthy heart.
Periodic Check up with your family physician: This is important to diagnose health problems before the damage actually occurs.
The link between the health of the eye and the health of the heart is well established. An annual comprehensive eye check-up is therefore always advisable to ensure long years of healthy vision and freedom from vascular events like heart attack and brain strokes. Remember the eye is the window to the heart and their health is interdependent.
Prof Upendra Kaul, Founder Director, Gauri Kaul Foundation
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK