Maintaining Healthy Vision

October 2013 | SEE Tips

By Kate Bryant

Former Vice President of Development

Your eyes are an important part of your health. A regular eye exam is the best way to protect your eyesight – and an easy precaution to take. Here are more tips for maintaining proper eye health – as well as a healthy lifestyle.

Have a Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam

You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your local eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, many people don’t realize that they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. Additionally, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration, often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating a healthy diet will help keep your eyes healthy too. Studies have shown that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E may help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, as well as eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, eggs and nuts, is important to maintaining eye health. 

Eating a well-balanced diet also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which makes you less likely to get obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking is as bad for your eyes, just as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness. To help you quit, visit the American Lung Association’s free online smoking cessation program at lung.org/quit-smoking/join-freedom-from-smoking.

Exercise

Exercise improves blood circulation, which improves oxygen levels to the eyes and the removal of toxins.

Wear Sunglasses

To protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light, choose sunglasses that block 90%-100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound lenses help protect your eyes from the side. Polarized lenses reduce glare when driving. Also, wearing a hat with a brim will greatly reduce the amount of UV radiation slipping around the side of your sunglasses.

Wear Protective Eyewear

Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities at home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.

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, as many can be hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

Give Your Eyes a Rest

If you spend a lot of time on the computer or focusing on one specific 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.

For More Information

National Eye Institute

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