Each May, the National Eye Institute’s Healthy Vision Month encourages Americans to make eye health a priority and take care of their vision. Follow the tips below to ensure that your eyes stay healthy and protected from damage.
Get an Eye Exam
Getting a comprehensive, dilated eye exam is the only way to catch early warning signs of eye disease. Glaucoma and diabetic eye disease often present themselves with no detectable symptoms until permanent damage has been done. During a dilated eye exam, drops are used to dilate, or widen, the pupil. This allows your eye doctor to examine your retina and look for any warning signs or damage. The recommended frequency of visits for adults without known eye disease is:
- Every 1-2 years for individuals 60 and over
- Every 2-3 years for individuals between the ages of 40-59
- Every 3-4 years for individuals between the ages of 20-39
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Living a healthy lifestyle can help all aspects of your body, including your eyes. Eating healthy foods, such as vitamin rich fruits and vegetables, can help to safeguard your vision. Research has shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut.
Maintain a healthy weight, as obesity can lead to a number of health problems. Among them is diabetes, which has many vision related compilations. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, or multiple sclerosis, they can greatly impact vision, resulting in inflammation of the optic nerve, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and even blindness.
If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your vision. Smoking has been linked to macular degeneration, uveitis (an inflammation of the eye that can result in blindness) as well as cataracts.
Know Your Family History
Talk to your family members, including aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, to learn if there is a history of eye disease in your family. This will help your doctor determine if you are at risk of eye disease yourself, as many conditions are hereditary.
Use Protective Eye Gear
Did you know that each day, about 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment? Or that every 13 minutes, an ER in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury? Wearing protective eyewear can prevent these injuries from happening. This includes safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores. Eyewear should sit comfortably on the face, so talk to your eye care provider about the appropriate type of protective eyewear for our sport or job.
Many people know that UV rays are bad for your skin, but they can be just as damaging to your eyes. Don’t treat sunglasses as just another fashion accessory. Wear them to protect your vision. Sun exposure has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration and Pterygium, a tissue growth over the white part of the surface of the eye that can alter the curve of the eyeball, causing astigmatism. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
Take the first step in protecting your vision and book your eye exam appointment with one of our doctors today! We would love to see you.