May is Vision Health Month
May is Vision Health Month!
Did you know: 1.2 million Canadians are living with vision loss, and over 8 million, or nearly 1 in 5, are living with an eye disease that could cause sight loss?
Vision Health Month is a chance to think about your vision health and learn how to reduce the risk of developing serious eye conditions. It is also a great time to find out about resources and supports by and for people living with vision loss.
Common Serious Eye Concerns
Here are some of the most common serious eye health concerns and how they can affect your vision:
- Cataracts are common as we age and can cause cloudy vision. Browse books and videos on cataracts.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) also happens as we age. It affects your central vision. Browse books and videos on macular degeneration.
- Diabetic retinopathy happens when the blood vessels in the retina become damaged due to uncontrolled blood sugars. It can cause things like blurry vision or, in extreme cases, detached retina. Browse books and videos on diabetic retinopathy.
- Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve and relates to the pressure inside the eye. It can damage nerve fibres and lead to blind spots and vision loss. Books and videos on glaucoma.
- Eye injury can occur at home, work, school, while playing or while on the road.
Tips for Good Vision Health
Get your eyes checked
It is important to get your eyes checked regularly. Not all eye-related health conditions have symptoms. But most cases of vision loss can be treated or prevented if caught early. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends adults have an eye exam every two years. Children, teenagers and seniors should have an eye exam once every year. You can make an appointment with an optometrist near you. Ontario’s health care plan, OHIP, covers costs for annual eye exams for children and seniors and for some adults. If you are on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works you may be able to get help with other vision care costs.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can harm your eyes and is linked to cataracts and macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses can help protect your eyes. Plus, sunglasses make everyone look cool. Choose sunglasses with 100%, or UV 400, coverage.
Eat your veggies!
Eating well is good for your general health, including your eye health. Here are some recommended foods:
- Foods that are high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, peppers and broccoli
- Foods with antioxidants like lutein and beta carotene, such as in carrots and dark leafy greens
- Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such as in walnuts, flax seeds and oily fish
All of these foods are nutritious, delicious and can help keep your eyes healthy. Need some inspiration? Check out these book recommendations from Toronto Public Health: Your Health Matters: Books on Food and Nutrition.
You’ve probably heard that smoking is bad for your health. But did you realize this includes vision health? If you smoke, you are at greater risk of developing eye conditions like cataracts or macular degeneration. The library has many books and audiobooks to help you quit.
If you play contact sports or use power tools, remember to wear eye or face protectors to reduce your risk of eye injury.
Give your eyes a break
Many of us spend a lot of time looking at digital devices, like computer screens, smartphones, gaming systems and televisions. This can cause eye strain and fatigue. It’s important to give your eyes a rest. Try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, focus your eyes on something that is 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
Reading Formats and Equipment at Toronto Public Library
If you, like me, tend to read A LOT, another way to give your eyes a break is to read audiobooks. The library has audiobooks for all ages on CD and in digital formats. We also have Playaways, which are audiobooks preloaded onto lightweight portable players. Learn more about audiobooks at the library.
If you prefer books in print but find the words are just too small, why not try large print? Browse what's new in Large Print.
E-books give you the option to change font size and other settings like contrast. Learn more in this blog post about accessible reading options.
People with print disabilities can also use the library’s Talking Books collection and the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA). A print disability is any visual, physical or learning disability that makes it difficult or impossible to read or hold a regular book. Visual print disabilities include blindness or low vision and eye conditions like glaucoma, including temporary conditions. Learn more about Talking Books, CELA and other accessible collections at the library.
The library has assistive equipment and technology to use in branches (pending Provincial regulations on access to branches). These include assistive reading devices such as hand-held magnifiers, natural spectrum lamps and computers with magnification and speech-to-text software.
Books on Vision Health
Here are a few books to learn more about vision health:
Eat Right for Your Sight by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon
The Eye Book: A Complete Guide to Eye Disorders and Health by Gary H. Cassel
The Eye Care Sourcebook by Jay B. Lavine
Eyefoods: The Complete Health & Nutrition Guide by Laurie Capogna
Eyefoods for Kids: A Tasty Guide to Nutrition and Eye Health by Laurie Capogna and Barbara Pelletier
Here are some books by people living with vision loss:
Cockeyed: A Memoir by Ryan Knighton
Dancing After TEN: A Graphic Memoir by Vivian Chong, illustrated by Georgia Webber
The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude by Howard Axelrod
Taking Hold: My Journey into Blindness by Sally Hobart Alexander
If you are living with vision loss, there are organizations in your community that can give you more resources, supports and connections with others. Here are some in Toronto: