It’s easy to take our eyes for granted, but a 2011 National Health Survey revealed over 21 million adults in the U.S. are living with some degree of vision loss. To keep your eyes healthy:
Have Routine Vision Exams
In the early stages, many eye diseases can only be detected through a comprehensive eye examination. Glaucoma and cataracts are two examples of conditions that are often discovered during routine eye exams. The sooner these diseases are identified; the sooner treatment can be started.
Annual eye exams also provide an opportunity to address overall health issues and medications that could impact vision; test visual acuity; assess the condition of the eye including the cornea, retina, optic nerve and lens; determine eye pressure; check eye movement and focusing ability; and look for refractive errors or other factors that could impede vision.
Maintain Nutritional Health
The old saying, “You are what you eat” can aptly be applied to eye health. A long-term study published in February 2014 issue of the journal, Ophthalmology, found daily multivitamin supplements may lower the risk of cataracts in men. Other nutrients are also thought to boost eye health including, selenium, lutein, zinc, beta carotene and vitamins A, C and E. These nutrients can be found in healthy foods like green leafy vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts, seafood and lean meats.
Wear Eye Protection
The sun’s ultraviolet light can hasten the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. Wear sunglasses designed to block both UVA and UVB rays and remember, quality doesn’t have to mean expensive. Many low-priced sunglasses offer UV protection, which should be designated on the label.
Nearly half of all eye injuries happen at home. Always use appropriate eye protection when handling chemicals, playing sports, or using equipment that could cause debris to fly into the eye. Always keep a pair of goggles or safety glasses with protective lenses handy.
Smoking can cause vision loss by increasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Quitting smoking significantly lowers your risk.
Take a Break
Many of us spend a large part of the day staring at computer, video, smart phone, tablet, e-reader and TV screens. All this screen time can lead to eye redness, eye strain, dry eyes and headache. To reduce symptoms, look away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes of screen time. This allows eyes to refocus.
It’s also helpful to: use anti-glare screen guards, place computer screens 4 to 5 inches below eye level, opt for low-wattage bulbs in desk lamps, take frequent rest breaks and make a conscious effort to blink frequently.
Taking steps to preserve your vision now could be beneficial in the long run.