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How Kidney Disease Patients Can Better Manage Their Retinal Health

1 month, 2 weeks ago

1334  0
Posted on Apr 11, 2024, 3 p.m.

Beyond being the main organs for visual processing and sight, the eyes can serve as windows to overall health and wellness. For instance, 3D eye scans are commonly used to track the early signs and progression of kidney disease. Specifically, retinal changes have been observed among patients with different stages of kidney disease, thus offering a quick, non-invasive way to manage and treat their condition.

Below, we examine the connection between kidney disease and retinal health to support early diagnosis and treatment. Since retinal and vision problems can also be complications of kidney disease, the article also offers practical tips for patients to adopt eye care and improve their overall health outcomes.

The connection between kidney disease and retinal health

The retina is the layer of nerves at the back of the eye responsible for capturing incoming light and transmitting signals to the brain for visual processing. However, patients with kidney disease tend to have thinner retinas, with the thinning progressing as their kidney function declines.

Several mechanisms of action can explain this link between kidney disease and retinal changes, including inflammation of not only the tiny filters in the kidney but also the blood vessels in the retina. Meanwhile, kidney disease linked to other chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension translates to increased oxidative stress in the eye’s structure, including the retina and the lens.

Aside from serving as a predictor for the stage of their disease, these structural changes can otherwise affect patients’ vision, thus increasing the disease burden and diminishing their quality of life. Fortunately, patients can adopt retinal care through the tips highlighted in the next section.

Ways for patients to take better care of the retina:

Wear sunglasses for UV protection

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can contribute to or worsen retinal damage, making it crucial to wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection, especially when staying outdoors for prolonged periods. Since retinal problems associated with kidney disease can degrade one’s vision, kidney patients can opt for prescription sunglasses that balance vision correction and sun safety in one eyewear.

Optical retailers like Sunglass Hut, Visionworks, and LensCrafters have prescription options for their vast assortment of sunglasses brands, such as the outdoor-oriented Ray-Ban and classic Ralph Lauren. Moreover, these frames have customization options like polarized filters to better fit your vision and lifestyle needs.

Schedule comprehensive dilated eye exams

Besides wearing sunglasses, comprehensive eye exams are also an essential part of retinal care and overall eye health. Specifically, patients can schedule routine eye dilation exams, which are early-detection tools that help ensure the retinal changes caused by your condition do not compromise your vision.

When conducting dilated eye exams, the doctor may use Ryzumvi, a phentolamine ophthalmic solution that can reverse pharmacologically induced eye dilation. This FDA-approved topical drug can help you cope with the light sensitivity and eye changes commonly experienced from six to 24 hours after artificial dilation.

Quit smoking and/or vaping

Lastly, retinal care involves quitting unhealthy habits, such as smoking and vaping, which otherwise affect the eyes and worsen existing retinal and vision problems. The American Academy of Ophthalmology explains that the toxic chemicals found in both traditional and electronic cigarettes can damage the blood vessels in the eye, increasing the risk of retinal damage observed in severe eye conditions like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Overall, retinal changes are a common consequence of kidney disease, but you can adopt eye care tips and healthy lifestyle changes to ensure these complications do not lead to vision loss or blindness.

This article was written for WHN by RUTH ANN JOHN who is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about health, wellness, and sustainability. When she’s not typing away at her keyboard, you can find her completing an oil painting or doing DIY projects.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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