A recent study published by Optometry and Vision Science has found that uncorrected refractive errors (URE) are the leading cause of visual impairments including low vision and blindness.
Normally, these refractive errors are caught early on in childhood. When caught, they are easily treatable, most commonly with prescription glasses or contacts. However, sometimes things can go wrong. Either the error isn’t caught and left uncorrected, or the error can be mistreated, leaving the person’s vision no better off than before.
This newfound information doesn’t have to be the end of your vision. URE are easily treatable; and not only in childhood. Adults suffering from a lifetime of URE can also work to improve their conditions. The best part is, we have all natural ways that won’t waste your time or break the bank.
URE: What Are They?
You’ve already heard of uncorrected refractive errors before, even if the term doesn’t sound familiar to you. Some of the most common are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia. These refractive errors occur when the eye is unable to properly focus, which then result in blurred vision.
Myopia is the most common refractive error, and has been on the rise in recent years. This refractive error causes the eye to have difficulty perceiving objects at a distance, while objects close to the eye are in perfect focus.
Hyperopia is the exact opposite of myopia. Eyes that are farsighted will have trouble focusing on objects close to the eye, while far away objects can be viewed clearly. In some extreme cases, hyperopia can cause such blurry vision that, tasks such as sewing and reading become very hard to do.
It’s important not to confuse hyperopia with presbyopia, because they have almost the exact same symptoms. Presbyopia is caused by the natural aging of the eye as it losses its ability to focus on objects that are near. The key difference is that hyperopia is caused by the shape of the eye, while presbyopia happens when the eye’s lens loses flexibility.
Now we come to our final refractive error: astigmatism. Astigmatism occurs when one eye is not completely round. No one has a set of perfectly identically shaped eyes, but in some, the difference is enough to cause blurred vision, fatigue and eyestrain.
Vision Impairments: The Domino Effect
URE need to be treated properly to avoid causing further damage. If left untreated or mistreated, URE can develop into moderate or severe vision impairments. When this point is reached, it can be hard (sometimes even impossible) to regain the vision you used to have.
In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 153 million people around the world were living with visual impairments caused by URE. However, this statistic does not include people with uncorrected presbyopia, which WHO claims may also have a significant impact on the visual impairment numbers.
At this point you may be thinking why people don’t just correct their URE and get on with life? For some, buying a pair of glasses doesn’t come easy or cheap. Many impoverished regions around the world (including right here in the United States), have people living with URE who might not even be aware.
For some, eye doctors are not easily accessible, nor are they a priority on their lists. Between paying off debts and figuring out how to pay for basic necessities, it can be quite easy for a person’s eye health to take a back seat. This is often what happens and when it does, the consequences can be dire.
Say you cut your finger while chopping an onion. Your first instinct is to wash it and bandage it up, right? Otherwise you risk your finger getting infected, which can lead to blood poisoning. What about when your eyes struggle to see? Do you deal with them safely so they can heal, or do you let them be and hope for the best?
Okay, the blood poisoning was an extreme example, but you get the picture. If URE go untreated, they will only proceed to get worse and damage your eyesight. It’s a domino effect. If you correct your vision while you can, you stop that first domino from falling.
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Correct Your Vision Impairments
The best way you can correct your future vision impairments is to prevent them. By preventing them you’ll also be correcting your current URE, therefore protecting your future self from a lot of heart ache and lost vision.
The first step in correcting your vision impairments is to make sure you have one. Sometimes blurry vision can be the result of digital eye strain or a bad night’s sleep. To be sure you have a URE (in case you don’t already know), call up your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Once you’ve got the diagnosis, things get, well, pretty fun. Taking care of your eyes doesn’t have to be boring or expensive. A lot of what you can do to correct your vision involves making some slight lifestyle changes.
When it comes to URE, most people will opt for the easy way out, providing their eyes with treatments that are essentially “eye crutches”. This is what glasses and contacts do for your eyes. They give your eyes temporary relief, but once they come off, you’re back to blurry vision.
Eye vitamins are probably the best gift you could ever give your eyes. Taking a daily supplement is so easy to do, and you’ll see quick improvement in your eyes.
Another great way to improve your URE is to get the most out of your diet. That means, eat lots of fruit high in antioxidants; vegetables packed with carotenoids; and lots and lots of vitamin A. For most, this won’t be a hard change. Add a few leafy greens to the top of your homemade pizza, or skip the bagel and opt for an energetic smoothie instead!
Don’t let perfectly correctable URE grow into much more complicated and irreversible vision impairments. If you think your vision needs help, visit your doctor for more advice.