February 5, 2018

Maintaining Good Vision

Does a healthful lifestyle help?

Peter N. Landless & Zeno L. Charles-Marcel

Q:I am 43 years old and was told I need reading glasses. I’ve watched my parents go through this: prescription lenses, eyedrops, laser treatment, and a couple surgeries. Am I destined to go down the same road? Or are there preventive lifestyle things I can do?

A:Unfortunately, until we experience the promise of Revelation 21:4 and 22:4, 5, there are no guarantees regarding our health path in this world. The passing years leave us more susceptible to various vision problems and conditions, not all of which are preventable. Some individuals with health conditions or work issues may be especially at risk, even though not everyone experiences the same problems or to the same degree. People with medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension may be directly affected, while those using medications for lipid disorders, thyroid disease, anxiety, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, or erectile dysfunction may have drug-related visual side effects. Occupations that are very visually demanding or prone to eye hazards also put us at risk.

Common eye diseases encountered as we age include cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. While these require specific treatment, some lifestyle factors facilitate or ameliorate their development and progression. Such things as tobacco, alcohol, ultraviolet light, injuries, steroids, diabetes, and hypertension can facilitate the development of eye diseases. Getting adequate exercise, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and maintaining a healthful weight may slow the progression.

As they age, some individuals become sensitive to glare, which affects their driving. Others have dry eyes with reduced tear production. Some people have dimmed vision and need brighter light than previously. With yet others, their lenses may become discolored, which affects the individual’s color perception.

Difficulty reading small print and doing close work is common in persons 40 to 60 years of age, and is most often a result of the eye lenses becoming less flexible, making it difficult to adjust focus from far to near. This is called presbyopia, and most likely is what you have. You should, however, get a comprehensive eye exam to be sure it is nothing more serious. If it is presbyopia, you have several options to regain clear near vision, such as eye exercises that may help delay the need for glasses or contacts but usually do not eliminate the need for corrective lenses if there are other vision issues. Today monovision or multifocal eyeglasses, monovision and bifocal contact lenses, and laser surgery or other refractive eye surgeries are all viable options.

Living a healthful lifestyle may not prevent all illness, but it does give us the best chance to reduce unnecessary suffering. It is God’s desire that we preserve our whole being as best we can until He comes (see 1 Thess. 5:23).

With the eye salve of the Holy Spirit, we will see things as God sees them. Let’s look forward to the day when we will see our Redeemer face to face, with no need for glasses or contact lenses.

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.