You take vitamins, you use moisturizer on your skin, and conditioner for your hair… but what have you done for your eyes lately? Healthy eyes and good vision make it possible to live our lives, drive to work and school, and enjoy the world around us. Here are five easy tips to help you safeguard one of your most valuable resources.
Pick the Right Pair of Sunglasses
The sun produces ultraviolet, or UV, rays that can cause skin cancer, in addition to a number of eye problems. Protecting your eyes is as simple as putting on a pair of sunglasses with lenses that block UV rays.
Look for sunglasses that have a label stating their UV protection level: if they say UV400 or higher, this means they block 100% of UV rays. Polarized lenses can also help protect your eyes from glare and discomfort.
Besides the lenses, the shape of your sunglasses is also important. Wraparound sunglasses block out more of the sun’s harmful rays. Large, wide lenses also offer additional protection. Make sure the glasses fit snug and close to your eyes.
Protect Your Eyes While Doing Household Chores
Safety goggles aren’t just for people who work construction or lab jobs. Every year, common household chemicals like bleach and other cleaners cause 125,000 eye injuries. Debris from home improvement projects or even gardening can also cause serious damage.
Next time you’re at the hardware store stocking up on supplies, pick up a pair of sturdy safety glasses. Here are just a few examples of how and when you should use them:
- Any time you’re working with fertilizers, pesticides, and similar chemicals.
- If you’re using power tools or anything that can create flying debris. You should also turn the tool off when anyone approaches – they need protection, too!
- When you’re mowing the lawn or using a weed eater.
Once you’re done with your task, wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes or your face.
Choose Eye-Healthy Foods
As a kid, you were probably told to eat your carrots because they would help with your eyesight. Your mom knew what she was talking about. Carrots are packed with beta carotene, an important nutrient that your body converts to vitamin A, which supports healthy vision. There are plenty of other healthy, nutritious foods that may reduce the risk of age-related decline in eye health by as much as 25%. Here are a few suggestions to add to your shopping list.
- Fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and anchovies have high levels of omega-3 oils, which may help keep your eyes moist even if you stare at a computer all day.
- Heart-healthy walnuts, peanuts, lentils, chia, and flax seeds are also rich in omega-3s and are full of vitamin E, which may offer additional protection from age-related damaged.
- Lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits are packed with antioxidants.
Stop Smoking and Limit Your Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke
In general, smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body, but it’s especially hard on your eyes. Besides causing cancer and heart disease, smoking can cause dry eye, and increase your risk for cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and optic nerve problems that can lead to blindness. Second-hand smoke can also be a significant eye irritant, so do whatever you can to limit time spent around cigarette smoke.
See the Eye Doctor Regularly
Even if you have perfect vision and have never needed contacts or glasses, you should visit your eye doctor on a regular basis. If you’re healthy, your vision is good, and you have no family history of eye disease, follow these age-appropriate guidelines for eye exams.
- In your 20s and 30s: every five to 10 years
- From 40 - 54: every two to four years
- From 55 - 64: every one to three years
- When you reach age 65: every one to two years
If you have a child, taking them for an eye exam before they reach age three is a good way to identify common eye conditions that could lead to learning problems.
Another reason why regular visits to the eye doctor are a good idea: some eye problems may be symptoms of more serious conditions. For example, blurry vision could also be a symptom of diabetes. An experienced eye doctor can also spot problems that might indicate cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease, and autoimmune disorders.
Whether you just need your vision checked or your doctor recommends seeing a specialist, AltaMed can help. To learn more, or to make an appointment, call us at (888) 499-9303.