Everyone knows that it is important to care for your overall health and diet. We visit the dentist and doctor regularly, but how often do we see an eye care professional? Incorporating eye health as part of your regular health check-ups can help prevent damage and disease, and help your maintain your vision.
1. Get checked. Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Often times, people do not know that they have vision problems or that they could see better with glasses or contacts.
During a comprehensive eye exam, the eye care professional will give you eye drops that help open the pupil up, allowing more light in. This allows the doctor to look further into the eye and check for any signs of damage or disease. Some diseases like glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration, have no warning signs and can only be detected with an eye exam.
2. Know your history. Your family health history can tell a lot about your own health. It is important to talk with your family about anyone with a disease or condition that may be hereditary.
3. Eat right. We all know that your diet affects our overall health, but how our diet affects our eyes is often overlooked. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, are full of antioxidants that help us maintain good vision and prevent eye disease.
4. Protect your eyes. Whether you are playing sports, doing yard work, or soaking up the sun, it is important to protect your eyes from both debris and the sun’s rays.
Wearing protective eye wear, including safety glasses and eye guards, can prevent injury to your eye from flying debris. Most safety glasses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.
When it comes to the sun, extended exposure of UV radiation has been linked to eye damage and temporary vision loss, which include cataracts, macular degeneration, pinguecula, and photokeratitis. Sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of UV A and UV B rays will protect your eyes – and make you look cool.
5. Take a break. Staring at a computer screen all day causes strain on your eyes. Try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Taking a break every so often will give your eyes a rest, and prevent temporary irritation and fatigue.
6. Wash your hands. Our hands and finger nail beds collect dirt and bacteria throughout the day. Many contagious eye infections, such as pink eye, can be contracted simply by not washing your hands. Always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and lukewarm water before handling your contacts or touching the outside of your eye.
Your eyes, like other organs of your body, are subject to stress and injury and can lose their full potential if not properly taken care of. It’s important to maintain the health of your eyes even as you grow older.
Due to our aging population, the number of blind and visually impaired people in the United States is estimated to double by 2030. Encouraging people to take care of their vision health as part of their overall health and wellness could significantly reduce that number and improve quality of life for millions of Americans.