It’s the beginning of 2015, and it is so important for us to brush up on how to protect your vision year-round. This is a personal health priority! Many people don’t pause for a moment to consider the importance of eyes on your overall well-being. We need to take on daily habits to help maintain good quality eyesight.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
One of the best things you can do to keep your eyes healthy is protect them from injury. Most injuries can be prevented by wearing proper eye protection such as safety glasses or by using a splash guard. When doing chores around the house, such as mowing the lawn, working with harsh chemicals such as bug spray, or even using tools, make sure you use proper eye protection. If you participate in active sports that can potentially cause eye injuries, wear safety glasses. If you think you may have gotten something in your eye, contact an optometrist or ophthalmologist who can assess your injury. If your eyes are directly exposed to chemicals (as by splashing or vapors), the risk of permanent damage or scarring increases the longer the irritant is in your eye. Rinse out your eyes right away with clean (preferably sterile) water for at least 10 minutes, then proceed to the emergency room or call 911.
Always protect your eyes from damaging UV light by wearing sunglasses. Select sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.This can also help slow cataract formation and macular degeneration.
Healthy body, healthy eyes
Keeping the rest of you healthy is another way to keep your eyes healthy. Maintaining a healthy body weight decreases your chances of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. All of these conditions can lead to vision loss. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss amongst the working-age population of the United States. Make sure you regularly follow up with your primary care doctor and take your prescribed medications if you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions. Be aware of your family’s health history and find out if you are at a higher risk for eye diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, or cholesterol.
Eating a well-balanced diet that includes fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, etc.), leafy green vegetables (such as kale and spinach, broccoli, zucchini, peas, and Brussels sprouts), eggs, nuts, beans and other non-meat protein sources, oranges and other citrus fruits or juices, will help maintain a healthy weight as well as help you receive the nutrients that are good for your vision. Also consider supplementing with anti-oxidant vitamins. Studies show that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Frequent exercise (like walking) can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70 percent.
Don’t smoke! People who smoke are at a greater risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, optic nerve damage, and cataracts.
In Relation To Computers
Working a desk job or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time during the day can cause eyestrain, blurry vision, trouble focusing at a distance, dry eyes, headaches, and neck, back, and shoulder pain. You can do several things to protect your eyes in relation to computers. Always make sure your glasses or contact lens prescription is current and sufficient for computer use. If you don’t currently wear glasses, regular check-ups can help determine whether or not you should be.
Make sure your computer screen is positioned so that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor. This will allow you to look slightly down at the screen which can help reduce strain. It is recommended that you keep your eyes at least an arm’s length from a computer screen and 16 inches from a handheld device. Increase the font size if it is hard to read the text on your handheld’s screen from at least 16 inches away. To lessen eyestrain with any device, make sure that you’re reading in soft lighting that doesn’t cause a glare. For a desktop computer, consider buying an anti-glare filter that clips to the monitor to limit glare from windows and lights. If you suffer from severe dry eyes, a laptop as opposed to a desktop computer tends to work more effectively. Less eye surface is exposed as you look down at the laptop screen which in turn leads to less tear evaporation, keeping your eyes moist. If your eyes are dry, blink more often. Use the 20/20/20 rule when staring at a screen: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds so you can blink naturally and give your eyes time to relax. At least every 2 hours, get up and take a 15-minute break.
Treat Contacts With Care
Keep your contacts and their case bacteria-free by washing your hands before handling them and replacing contacts as often as prescribed. Always store lenses in fresh solution. Remove lenses before sleeping (even for naps). It is always good to give your eyes a break by wearing glasses once a week.
Make Over Your Makeup Routine
After about 3 months, bacteria can thrive in mascara, so it is important to toss the tube around that time. Sharpen eye liner pencils regularly. It's fine to line the base of your lashes, but “putting liner inside the lash line can block the oil glands, which protect your eyes’ surface,” says Ruth D. Williams, M.D., a former president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Regular Eye Exams
Lastly, have your eyes examined regularly at least every 2 to 4 years if you are between the ages of 40 to 65. If you are over the age of 65, you should have an eye exam every 1 to 2 years. If you start noticing any changes in your vision, such as double vision, hazy vision and difficulty seeing in low light conditions, frequent flashes of light, floaters, and eye pain or any swelling, see your eye doctor immediately. Any of these many indicate possible eye health problems that demand prompt attention.
Don't take your eyes for granted. You are only given one pair of eyes to last you a lifetime, so make sure you do everything in your power to take care of the ones you were born with. We hope that these tips will help you the rest of your life to make good, smart, healthy choices for yourself and your eyes! Happy New Year!