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Basic principles of eye care to reduce the risk of vision loss

Vision loss has a significant impact on the life of every individual. It affects self-esteem, social isolation, and relationships with loved ones. Almost anyone may be forced to change their job, lose their regular income, be unable to drive, and participate in their usual daily life if this event suddenly strikes them.

Vision loss always leads to disability, and many of us hope it won’t happen to us but take any action to prevent it.

While vision can disappear in a day, the actual process leading to vision loss takes months and even years. Deteriorating vision can lead to depression, increased anxiety, a higher risk of injuries and fractures, limited activity, work impairment, and a reduced quality of life.

What the Statistics Say

  • 1.2 million Canadians live with vision loss, which is more than 3% of the total population of Canada. By 2050, this number is expected to increase to 2 million people.
  • 8 million Canadians suffer from eye diseases that can lead to vision loss.
  • Regular eye check-ups can help prevent blindness. However, in 2020, there were 2.9 million fewer visits to ophthalmologists compared to 2019. Such a decrease in early diagnosis is inevitably going to lead to an increase in the number of Canadians losing their vision.
  • In 2019, vision loss cost the Canadian budget $32.9 billion. It is already clear that this figure will increase significantly due to many people not receiving timely assistance over the last two years.
  • At the same time, up to 75% of cases of vision loss can be prevented or treated with preventive measures.

Level of Blindness in Canada by Provinces

In numerical terms, Ontario is the leader, but when adjusted for the population, British Columbia leads the way. Following are Alberta, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, and the provinces of the East Coast. The Northern Territories conclude this ranking.

Why are British Columbia and Alberta leading? I can speculate that it might be due to mountains – at high altitudes, harmful sunlight is much more dangerous. And many cases of vision loss are indeed associated with the impact of solar radiation. Eyes are a very delicate organ of our body, practically unprotected, and highly vulnerable to various external influences, as well as susceptible to oxidation.

Causes of Blindness in Canada

These data are from the Canadian Survey on Disabilities 2017:

  • Cataracts: 3,541,000 people
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration: 1,574,000 people
  • Glaucoma: 294,600 people
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: 749,800 people

Almost 15% of Canada’s population has diagnosed problems that can lead to partial or complete vision loss over time.

What Does Age Have to Do With It?

Vision loss can occur at any age, but it is more common among older people. The older the age group, the higher the percentage of the population with vision loss in that age group. The highest risk of blindness is in the age group over 80 years old. Nearly one-third of people in Canada experience vision loss by this age.

Risk Factors for Vision Loss

Age is just one of the risk factors that is beyond our control. Let’s consider other risk factors:

  • Diabetes (high blood sugar): Diabetes can be controlled in today’s world through diet, supplements, lifestyle, and modern medications.
  • High blood pressure: This is also controllable through proper diet, lifestyle, supplements, and medications.
  • Tendency to form blood clots, history of stroke or heart attack: While this may be a genetic predisposition, we have methods to thin the blood and reduce the risk of clot formation.
  • Smoking: This is a very serious risk factor, not only for potential vision loss but also for an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and clot formation with a potentially higher risk of heart attack or stroke. This risk factor is entirely in your hands.

How to Preserve Good Vision for as Long as Possible?

Protect your eyes from intense ultraviolet light

  • Everyone now knows the importance of using sunscreen, but it’s equally important to protect your eyes from the sun.
  • If you wear glasses, check if they have a special UV protection coating. In the past, glasses had glass lenses, but nowadays, they are made of plastic. Unlike glass, plastic does not protect against UV rays. When ordering glasses, you should specifically request the application of such a coating. If your glasses are tinted, it’s not obvious that they have UV protection!
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim; this will also help shield your eyes from direct sunlight.

The best protection on a sunny summer day is sunglasses with special coatings, side shields, and a hat with a wide brim.

Quit smoking

If you still smoke, quit smoking. There is nothing better for a smoker. You cannot compensate for the harm to your eyes from smoking with diets, supplements, lifestyle changes, or medications.

Regular physical activity

Engage in regular physical activity. The best and safest type of activity for your eyes is walking.

Proper nutrition

Do not indulge in sugar! Sugar damages blood vessels, leads to cataract formation, and increases the risk of cataracts. In addition, sugar is associated with a higher risk of dementia and cancer.

If you have no contraindications, the best diet is one rich in whole, unprocessed foods, with plenty of greens, nuts, non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and quality protein containing Omega-3 fatty acids.

Regular check-ups

Check-ups are very important; they help take necessary measures in case of deteriorating vision. This is especially important if you are in a high-risk group, which means you belong to at least one of the following population groups:

Use eye supplements (vitamins, antioxidants):

  • Vitamins A, C, D, E, B group
  • Special antioxidants aimed at eye health: lutein and zeaxanthin
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Minerals: zinc, selenium, magnesium, chromium.

Take care of your health

All the above-mentioned problems can increase the risk of blindness. Many of them may not manifest themselves until tests are conducted. Therefore, regular visits to the doctor are crucial. Things that may not show themselves but should be noted include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • High sugar levels
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic eye disease
  • Age-related macular degeneration.

But you may notice that you’ve gained excess weight, which can lead to all of the aforementioned problems. It’s simple: if your clothing size has changed in the last 2 years, it’s high time to focus on your health.


1. Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017

2. STOP THE CRISIS OF Preventable Blindness

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4. Rasmussen HM, Johnson EJ. Nutrients for the aging eye. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:741-8. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S45399. Epub 2013 Jun 19.PMID: 23818772PMCID: 3693724

5. Zhang AC, Singh S, Craig JP, Downie LE. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Eye Health: Opinions and Self-Reported Practice Behaviors of Optometrists in Australia and New Zealand. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 22;12(4):1179. doi: 10.3390/nu12041179.PMID: 32331489PMCID: 7230711