May is Healthy Vision Month
If you want to see clearly into your future, you may want to change your diet, develop an exercise regimen, buy a new pair of shades, and throw out the salt, among other things.
According to ophthalmologist Lewis Murray, M.D., with The Eye Clinic, people have more control over their eye health than they may think. Although patients hear a steady stream of information about how to keep their hearts, brains and internal systems healthy, they may not realize that there are also several things they can do to maintain healthy eyes and good vision throughout their lifetime.
“Although there are some aspects of our eye health that are results of uncontrollable factors, such as genetics or trauma, there are definitely things we can do to keep our eyesight functioning as effectively as possible,” says Dr. Murray. He offers these guidelines:
Protect Your Eyes. There are some obvious instances where eyes need to be protected – during certain work-related tasks, such as welding or carpentry, for example, but many people underestimate the need to protect their eyes from less apparent threats, such as swimming pools, yard work, and the sun. Buy sunglasses that block harmful UV rays. “If possible, you want to filter as much as 99 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Anti-UV coatings are available not only for sunglasses but regular glasses as well,” Dr. Murray says. In addition, wear protective goggles when swimming and protective eyewear when doing yard work around the home – those aren’t just for the workplace.
Quit Smoking. It’s a well-known fact that smoking can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and stroke, but smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
Clean Contact Lenses Properly. To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as recommended.
Remove Eye Makeup. If your eye makeup isn’t properly removed, it can find its way into the eye, which can damage the cornea. The cornea is the dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. As the eye’s outermost layer, it can be sensitive to foreign objects and can become scratched.
Take a Break. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain.
Eat Eye-Friendly foods. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut. “Also, reduce your salt intake,” says Dr. Murray. “Salt has been found to increase a person’s risk of cataracts, and can also have an adverse effect on blood pressure, which can also affect your eye health.”
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes and other conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.
Know your family’s eye health history. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition. Dr. Murray says to be sure to share this information with your eye doctor.
Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam. You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye doctor for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. “Many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs,” says Dr. Murray. “A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in the earlier, more treatable, stages.”
For more information about any eye condition, or to schedule an appointment, call The Eye Clinic nearest you, or visit www.TheEyeClinic.net.