Two Positive Changes The Sandwich Generation Should Make Now

family laying in a circle on the groundIn a recent survey of the Sandwich Generation (adults 40 to 60 years of age), one quarter of the 2,000 survey respondents acknowledged they spend more time managing the health of their parents and/or children than their own health needs. Seventeen percent also acknowledged that caring for others has had a negative impact on their health – including eye health.This comes as no surprise to Key Whitman Eye Center’s Plano eye doctor Faisal Haq, M.D. As he explains, “A variety of common eye diseases begin to develop during these two decades of life, including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and for diabetics, diabetic retinopathy.

“The earlier we can diagnose these conditions, the better the ability we have to treat the patient and improve his or her prognosis. Unfortunately, the people identified in the study often have the hardest time coming in for regular eye exams.”

Stress And Lack Of Time Prevalent In The Sandwich Generation Years

The aforementioned survey confirmed that many in the Sandwich Generation disregard eye health, because they can’t find the time to squeeze in regular eye exams. Added responsibilities for growing children and aging parents often take priority and exacerbate another health threat – stress.

“Life can be stressful for those in the Sandwich Generation. For many, it’s a time marked by our most productive years professionally, kids being raised and parents getting older. So there are unique stresses that occur during these decades,” Dr. Haq says.

Stress Can Increase Health Risks Indirectly And Directly

According to Dr. Haq, “Stress can affect general health and vision indirectly, because when people are dealing with the stress of juggling multiple priorities, they often neglect to proactively deal with health concerns. So that is an indirect consequence of a stressful life.”

As a physician, Dr. Haq regularly sees how stress has a direct impact on his patient’s health. “Stress can worsen conditions like dry eye syndrome and exacerbate diabetes, which can affect eye health. In addition, the immune system can be compromised when our bodies are under stress, which can create a worsening of symptoms for people who are predisposed to autoimmune diseases,” Dr. Haq says.

A variety of systemic conditions can manifest in the eyes, too. Dr. Haq encourages the Sandwich Generation to look out for issues with general health such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, etc.).

Learn how autoimmune diseases like arthritis threaten eyesight in this past post.

As Dr. Haq explains, “All of these conditions can have a significant impact on your health in general, as well as related manifestations in the eyes. It’s very important to see your primary care physician and eye doctor regularly when you are in this age range, so they can proactively diagnose and treat any of these conditions.”

Dr. Haq’s Advice? Focus On No. 1, Your Health And No. 2, The Important
Things In Life

Losing sight of your own health can result in serious health consequences. Plus, if you end up with health problems of your own, it will be even more difficult to care for the ones you love. Dr. Haq encourages those in the Sandwich Generation to find a balance between the needs of loved ones and personal health needs.

“Exercise is helpful both from a direct health standpoint and from a stress relief point of view. Yoga might be a good option to consider. And to find that balance between body and the mind, make time to think clearly and analyze what truly matters and base your life around that.

“You have to look at what’s in front of you, value what’s there and not worry so much about the intangibles that you can’t control,” advises Dr. Haq.

Has It Been Awhile Since Your Last Eye Exam?

Dr. Haq has been attending to the eye health and eye surgery needs of Key-Whitman patients since 2006 and was recently recognized as a “Best Doctor” in Collin County in D Magazine’s 2016 poll. Cataracts, vision correction surgery, corneal disease and glaucoma management are Dr. Haq’s specialties.

To schedule an eye appointment with Dr. Haq at Key-Whitman’s Plano office – or to schedule an eye exam at our Dallas, Arlington or Mesquite locations – please call (214) 225-2577, or feel free to set up an appointment online here.