Can you imagine losing sight in one or both of your eyes? Most of us rely so heavily on our vision that this thought is unimaginable and quite scary. As an Optometrist, ensuring our patients have optimal sight is one of our main tasks. Diagnosing and treating sight threatening diseases, certifying the eyes are getting appropriate nutrition, and prescribing the correct lenses are all elements that your Optometrists can help you with. There are no warning signs for many leading eye diseases such as; age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts, yet most people don’t see an Optometrist until they have a problem seeing. Unfortunately, by that time, it is difficult to reverse the damage.
However, there is good news. Aside from your annual checkup with your Optometrist, there are things that you can do to help maintain healthy eyes.
Ten helpful tips for healthy eyes:
- Know your family history: Many eye diseases are hereditary. By informing your Optometrist of your family history, we can perform additional screening and look for early signs of eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.
- Protecting your eyes from the sun: Sunglasses are a must-have for all seasons. Sunglasses block more than 99.9% of UV-A and UV-B rays which are both harmful to the eyes. Just like putting on sunscreen on an overcast day, you should be wearing sunglasses even when it’s cloudy. This is especially important when there’s snow outside as snow reflects light significantly.
- Protect your eyes from computers/phones/tablets: Screens used in our everyday lives emit blue light, a form of UV light that is especially harmful to the eyes. Studies conclusively show that blue is light can lead to early development of macular degeneration and cataracts. Nowadays we can add a blue-light blocking tint to your glasses to prevent any damage. Be sure to ask your Optometrist about this.
- Stay healthy: Carrying extra weight increases your risk for developing diabetes. Diabetes can affect your vision as well as the health of your eyes. Diabetic Retinopathy is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in North America. So don’t forget to hit the gym on a regular basis.
- Contact lens care: If you are a contact lens wearer, make sure to take good care of your lenses. Never sleep in your contacts and replace your lenses monthly. Additionally, you could switch to using daily disposable lenses which minimize potential infections. These tips will ensure that you will be able to wear contact lenses for many years.
- Book yearly eye exams: An eye exam is more than finding the right prescription. Routine yearly check-ups provide us the opportunity to ensure that the eyes are healthy. As you age, your chance of developing an eye disease increases annually.
- Cosmetics: Old makeup can carry bacteria and become contaminated over time. It’s important to replace your eye make-up every few months. In addition, sharing mascara with friends can significantly increase your odds of developing an eye infection.
- Protective eyewear: Playing sports can be a dangerous activity for your eyes. Hockey, racquetball, baseball, lacrosse and many other sports can pose a risk for a blow to the eye. Make sure that you’re wearing protective eyewear during sporting events. Also, don’t forget safety glasses if you’re working around chemicals or welding.
- Stop smoking: Everyone knows that smoking is an unhealthy habit, so quit already. Smoking is directly linked to age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve diseases – all of which can lead to permanent vision loss.
- Maintaining a healthy diet: Eating the right types of foods, reducing your cholesterol and saturated fat intake can significantly help the health of your eyes. Dark leafy greens, orange peppers and fish oil with Omega-3 fatty acids have all been shown to be very healthy for your eyes. Making sure you get enough of the right fruits and veggies goes a long way to help preserve your sight.