A Vision of Autumn | Long Island Eye Doctor
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New England. This is what I think about when autumn arrives and my wife and I are considering taking a fall foliage tour. The dazzling colors can be breathtaking. Every year I meet a friend in early October for a golfing day in the Catskill Mountains. The scenery is a sight to behold and I look forward to this each year. But what if I couldn’t see? What if my vision fails me? What if I develop cataracts or macular degeneration? What do these diseases do to my vision and, in essence, my enjoyment of experiencing life to its fullest?
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens inside the eye which almost always comes with aging. There are other causes of cataracts as well…….diabetes and trauma are but two. The most common type comes from aging, diet and exposure to UV (ultraviolet) light and certain blue light wavelengths over a lifetime. These types of cataracts develop slowly and diminish the quality of our vision. Think of it this way….. We are born with high definition vision and degrade to tube-TV-like vision (an old tube TV) over the years. We now know that we have ways of protecting our eyes from UV and harmful blue light exposure, and we should start this protection in childhood. For those of us in our 60’s or older, the jury is inconclusive whether we can further put off the inevitable cataract surgery. But we do know that reducing the exposure of our children is one of the most important things we can do for them as 80% of their life time exposure to UV and harmful blue light comes before they are 18 years of age………Yes 18 years of age.
Macular degeneration is a serious eye condition that is increasing in prevalence in the older population. This condition is potentially serious and reduces central vision but does spare peripheral vision in most instances. Color vision is lost, reading as we know it is difficult or impossible with standard eyeglasses, watching television or even walking is difficult without tripping or bumping into things. And heaven forbid if macular degeneration is also combined with a cataract or other eye disease process. Macular degeneration runs in families, is highly associated with smoking and exposure to UV and harmful blue light, with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and other common diseases. Can we reduce our risks? You bet we can.
Location, location, location is the mantra that we have when we buy a house or a business. Protection, protection, protection is the mantra when it comes to buying a lifetime with our vision. Wear a hat and sunglasses. Stop smoking and watch your diet to control cholesterol. Exercise to reduce blood pressure. Take the doctor-ordered medications and lose weight to reduce the probability of being diabetic. And do all the other common sense things that we all know we should do to maintain your health.
Keep your vision of autumn to today’s vision of autumn. Don’t let your vision of autumn be just a memory.
Hope to see you in the mountains this fall.
Dr. Joel Kestenbaum