6 steps to save your sight

An eye doctor, either an optometrist or ophthalmologist, can detect early signs of eye disease, even before you notice a problem.

When you think about preventing illness, do you focus on the worst diseases, those that threaten life- cancer, heart attacks, stroke, violence. But non-fatal conditions can also “threaten life”, putting the quality of our lives in danger.

Vision impairment may contribute to severe and significant loss of function and well being.

If you include people whose vision problems can be corrected with glasses or contacts, it may be the most common disability in the world. But even excluding those people, vision loss still affects millions of people in the world.

diagram of the eye

Courtesy: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH)


(This post includes several affiliate  and non-affiliate links for your reference and to support this blog. )


key facts about vision loss

  • 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide
  • 39 million people  are blind and 246 million  have low vision.
  • About 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings.
  • 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above.
  • Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment.
  • Cataracts cause most  blindness in middle- and low-income countries.
  • The number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has decreased in the last 20 years .
  • 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.
Braille system: A system of raised-dot writing devised by Louis Braille (1809-1852) for the blind in which each letter is represented as a raised pattern that can be read by touching with the fingers.

Braille system: A system of raised-dot writing devised by Louis Braille (1809-1852) for the blind in which each letter is represented as a raised pattern that can be read by touching with the fingers.

The four most common refractive errors are:

A refractive error is a common eye disorder. It occurs when the eye cannot clearly focus the images from the outside world, causing blurred vision.

  1. myopia (nearsightedness): difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly;
  2. hyperopia (farsightedness): difficulty in seeing close objects clearly;
  3. astigmatism: distorted vision resulting from an irregularly curved cornea, the clear covering of the eyeball.
  4. presbyopia: which leads to difficulty in reading or seeing at arm’s length, it is linked to ageing and occurs almost universally.

Refractive errors are commonly corrected with glasses or contact lenses, or refractive surgery.

Glasses or contact lenses for myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism need to be made with a prescription based on the results of an eye exam by a professional.

Glasses for presbyopia, commonly called reading glasses, can be purchased online or in many retail stores and get be fitted by trying on different strengths until you find one that works the best. Most people use them for close work like reading, sewing, crafts, drawing, and games.

I use contacts  to correct my vision impairments-myopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia. One eye is corrected for distance and the other corrected for near . I can read, drive, watch television, dance, take care of my home and work without difficulty.

macular degeneration

My husband fights to protect his vision. He had severe myopia which was partially corrected with surgery. He subsequently developed early onset macular degeneration, a condition which destroys the retina of the eye causing loss of central vision.

Progression of the degeneration is slowed with regular injections of a drug originally developed to treat cancers. (If a shot into the eye sounds painful, it is.) He has  had removal of cataracts. So far he is able to function visually, but he appreciates his sight and does whatever he can  to preserve it.

Globally, the causes of blindness are

  • cataract (47.9%) the leading cause of visual impairment in all areas of the world, except for developed countries.
  • glaucoma (12.3%),
  • age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (8.7%),
  • corneal opacities (5.1%),
  • diabetic retinopathy (4.8%),
  • childhood blindness (3.9%),
  • trachoma (3.6%)
  • onchocerciasis (0.8%).

In many developing areas of the world, public health measures aim to eliminate the source of the infections that cause trachoma and onchocerciasis, and save the sight of millions of people.

basic supplies for eye exams in a developing country
Eye doctors on a volunteer medical team used these supplies to do eye exams  in a remote area.

You can protect and save your sight with these steps-

(The following sections contain several affiliate links; using these links costs you nothing extra and helps support this blog. thank you. )

An eye doctor, either an optometrist or ophthalmologist, can detect early signs of eye disease, even before you notice a problem. Go here for an explanation of what each of these professionals do .

an older man having a simple eye test for glasses
A patient reading a chart to determine the appropriate strength for reading glasses. A missions team distributed glasses at no charge in this Central American country.

Smoking constricts the blood vessels supplying the eye with oxygen rich blood, thereby suffocating the tissue. This contributes to cataracts and macular degeneration.

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Here are some surprising reasons to avoid smoking


Sun exposure also contributes to cataracts so wearing UV protective sunglasses is recommended.

Macular degeneration has been associated with low intake of vitamins A, C, and E, omega 3 fatty acids, lutein and zinc. The best source for this is food.  For people who already have macular degeneration or who are at high risk, eye doctors may recommend a vitamin supplement which provides these nutrients.

Diabetes contributes to blindness by damaging the retina. Good control of blood sugar helps to prevent or slow this, as well as regular monitoring and laser treatment when needed.

Vision loss is one of the most common complications from diabetes and one that can be prevented or minimized. If you have diabetes, take it seriously and work with your doctor to manage it well.

You may have diabetes and not know it. Certain symptoms may indicate diabetes; read about them here.

If you have not been tested for diabetes, ask your doctor if you should. It’s a simple blood test called Hemoglobin A1c

Other chronic conditions associated with vision loss are heart disease and stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol, sickle cell disease, and multiple sclerosis.

In addition to wearing sunglasses when outdoors, appropriate protective lenses should be worn during sports. People who work at jobs involving power tools or chemicals need protective goggles in case of splashes or flying bits of material. Children, adolescents and young adults are most likely to lose vision from traumatic injuries.

I know how tempting it can be to cut corners when cleaning, storing, discarding and wearing contacts. But when used incorrectly, contacts can cause more problems than they solve. Contact lens wear can cause trauma, infections and dryness that can damage the cornea. Don’t risk turning correctable vision problems into long term harm. Get the details on caring for contacts here and use only products recommended by your eye professional.

Helen Keller

lost her sight but gained a mission

The Story of My Life is an autobiography of Helen Keller, a woman who was both blind and deaf since infancy. Her remarkable story was told in a movie, the

The Miracle Worker  was a movie about Keller for which Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke as Helen won Oscars for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress

The uniquely remarkable life of Helen Keller

Keller is remembered for her advocacy for persons with blindness and other physical disabilities. But her social and political advocacy may not be so well known, it wasn’t to me. In politics, she could be considered an early progressive, having joined the Socialist Party of America. She was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Keep reading

sharing the HEART of health

What did you learn from this post? If you haven’t had an eye exam in the past 1-2 years, consider making an appointment soon. No matter how young or old you are it’s not too early or too late to start protecting your sight.

Please use the highlighted links to get more information about any of the topics I mentioned.

I invite you to follow this blog by leaving your email so I can notify you when I post something new. In the meantime, please look at other posts her now

Thank you for  viewing and using the affiliate link and advertisements  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world, including saving someone’s sight.


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I welcome support of any size , all of which go to fund this blog and help me share the HEART of health all over the world.

I appreciate your time and hope you’ll visit regularly.

Dr Aletha

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7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

almost all public places in the United States have been made smoke free. But even though the smoking rate has steadily declined, smoking is still the leading cause of death and preventable illness in this country and much of the world.

On a trip to Colorado , I visited Seven Falls in Colorado Springs. Seven Falls is a series of seven cascading waterfalls of South Cheyenne Creek in South Cheyenne Cañon. To get to the falls, you walk a one-mile scenic path through the canyon, passing trees, towering cliffs and a winding stream. Along the way, I  passed more “no smoking” signs than I have seen anywhere else.

2015-09-14 13.33.50
On the path to Seven Falls, Colorado Springs

Those signs inspired me to write a post about smoking. I grew up when smoking was socially acceptable and widely practiced, and no one worried  about the health effects. My mother and her friends smoked, even in our house. She would drive us to the grocery store, stay in the car and send me inside with 50 cents to purchase a pack of cigarettes for her. She told me, “Tell the clerk it’s for your mother.” In today’s world, my mother would be arrested for child neglect for doing that.

When I was an adult, she quit the habit but unfortunately not before smoking had caused atherosclerosis (hardening) of her leg arteries,limiting blood flow and making walking  painful. Surgery corrected this, but the arteries in her brain were also affected, leading to dementia in late life.

Cigarette advertising was everywhere; billboards, television, magazines. Even JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, had cigarette ads. I went to medical conferences where, during the breaks, physicians would go into the lobby and light up cigarettes. After just listening to a lecture on heart disease!

All that changed when scientists uncovered the harmful effects of smoking. The Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 required the following health warning, prescribed by Congress, to be placed on all cigarette packages sold in the United States:


the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act

Gradually,  almost all public places in the United States have been made smoke free.  But even though the smoking rate has steadily declined, smoking is still the leading cause of death and preventable illness in this country and  much of the world.


Most people know that cigarette smoking harms our health, being directly linked to heart attacks, strokes, lung and other cancers and emphysema.

But you may not know about some other conditions that smoking causes or aggravates. I’m going to share those with you along with some photos from my walk at Seven Falls.

2015-09-14 13.25.20

pregnancy and babies

Smoking affects fertility, pregnancy, and infants . Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant and can affect a man’s sperm. Smoking increases risks for:

  • Preterm (early) delivery
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
  • Low birth weight
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
  • Ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancy
  • Cleft lip in infants
2015-09-14 11.20.32


Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can impair control of blood glucose (sugar).  The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than nonsmokers. Diabetes is a major cause of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries in the heart, kidney, legs, which is also aggravated by smoking.


Smoking can affect bone health, leading to osteoporosis. Women past childbearing years who smoke have weaker bones than women who never smoked, and are at greater risk for broken bones. Smokers tend to hurt more than non smokers and narcotic type pain meds don’t relieve pain as well as in non-smokers.


Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss. It yellows the teeth as tar builds up in the enamel, also leading to bad breath.

2015-09-14 11.14.48


Smoking can harm your eyesight. It increases your risk for

  • cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see) and
  • age-related macular degeneration (damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision).


Smoking aggravates and may even cause several chronic inflammatory diseases, including

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus- SLE or lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis


And, it affects your appearance.

By decreasing circulation, smoking causes the skin to weaken and be more susceptible to infection, wrinkles and acne.

And it increases the risk for grey hair and baldness.

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This is the bad news. Fortunately, the good news is that there are many resources available to help you quit smoking. The link at the bottom will lead you to help. Of course, you should ask your  own physician for advice.


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arrived at the falls

Here is the link to becoming


For help from your state quitline:

1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669)


2015-09-14 11.56.43
at the base of the last fall

Another interesting and fun attraction in Colorado Springs

the U.S. Olympic Training Center 

gym at the U.S. Olumpic training center
gym at the U.S. Olumpic training center

In this fictional story, one of the main characters quit smoking. You can too.

                                                  Say Goodbye for Now

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW by Catherine Ryan Hyde

sharing the HEART of getting smoke free

Dr Aletha

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