Keeping your eyes healthy is important to your overall health and quality of life. However, they are often forget about when people are consciously caring for their bodies. Here are five easy ways to keep your eyes healthy.
1. Invest in a Good Pair of Sunglasses
Direct sunlight can take a toll on your eyes. They may experience dryness, soreness, burning, itching, or watering after extended exposure to the sun. In the long run, sunlight can permanently damage your eyes, causing eyelid and internal eye cancer, cataracts, and even macular sunburn.
Protection from the sun is particularly important if you have a history of degenerative eye conditions in your family such as age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, or glaucoma. Prevention is the only surefire way to treat AMD and other progressive conditions.
2. Eat Well
Carrots aren’t the only food that promote healthy eyesight. Here are four other superfoods that can help keep your eyes healthy:
• Cruciferous Vegetables: Dark green, leafy vegetables are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are naturally occurring in healthy eyes. A diet full of broccoli, kale, collard greens, spinach, and turnip greens can lower your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
• Fish: The omega-3 fatty acid found in cold water fish has been linked to a lower risk of AMD. Swap red meat for salmon, halibut, tuna, or sardines to keep your omega-3 fatty acid levels high.
• Citrus Fruit: Citrus has the highest naturally occurring vitamin C of any kind of fruit, which is great news for your eyes. Healthy eyes require vitamin C to function, so introduce oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit into your regular diet.
• Legumes: Beans have high levels of zinc, a trace mineral that helps protect your eyes from light damage. Add a side of kidney beans, black-eyed peas, or lima beans to any meal to maintain your eye health.
Good nutrition is an important part of maintaining your optic wellbeing. Your eyes are composed of tiny arteries, sort of like your heart, and eating a well-balanced diet is a vital part of keeping those arteries clear and functional.
3. Schedule Regular Eye Exams
Most healthy adults should visit their optometrist once every one to three years. Here’s what to expect from a typical exam:
• Eye Muscle Movement Test: You’ll track an object with your eyes while your eye health care provider observes your eyes’ movements.
• Pupil Exam: Your optometrist will observe your pupils’ reaction time by exposing your eye to direct light, usually with a small flashlight.
• Visual Acuity Tests: Depending on your age and eye health history, your eye healthcare provider may conduct several visual acuity tests. These include reading from an eyesight chart, looking through a series of lenses and identifying which lens offers the clearest vision, and mapping the strongest and weakest points in your field of vision.
• Glaucoma Tests: The most common glaucoma test uses painless puffs of air to measure intraocular pressure.
There are some external factors which may affect how often you should schedule eye exams. In Calgary and other cold weather cities, for example, you are more likely to develop dry eyes, which may need to be treated with prescription eye drops.
4. Step Away from the Screen
Spending too much time in front of a screen can cause strain, headaches, blurred vision, trouble focusing, and dry eyes. Even if you work at a computer most of the day or can’t bear to part with your favorite television programs, these steps can help prevent eye damage caused by electronic screens:
• Make sure your glasses or contacts prescription is up to date.
• Adjust the brightness and contrast on your monitor to minimize the strain on your eyes.
• Invest in an anti-glare screen or position your screen to avoid sunlight. A glare may intensify the damage caused to your eyes from looking at a screen for too long.
• Raise your chair so that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor and you look slightly down at the screen.
• Sit with your feet flat on the floor and back straight as often as possible.
• Take a break when your eyes begin to get tired. Even if you can’t get up from your computer, take 20 seconds about every half hour to look at a spot 20 or more feet away to rest your eyes.
5. Manage Your Environment
Ambient moisture is important for keeping your eyes at their best. If you live in a dry climate, consider investing in a humidifier for your home and the office. The added moisture prevents dryness and irritation.
There are plenty of health-related reasons to stop smoking, but did you know that using tobacco is one of the easiest ways to damage your eyes? Smoking contributes to serious conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, and optic nerve damage.
Using these simple tricks can help keep your eyes healthy day-to-day and far into the future. Talk to your eye healthcare provider for more ways you can improve your optic health.
Informational credit to Dr. Bishop & Associates.