While you may not be able to prevent all vision problems, there are steps you can take to protect your eye health and reduce your risk of eye diseases. By following a healthy lifestyle and getting proper preventive eyecare, you can help keep your eyes in top shape.
Simple ways to take the best care of your eyes:
- Eat an eye-healthy diet: There are several nutrients linked to better eye health and reduced risk of eye disease. Eating a balanced diet will help ensure that you get them all. Dark leafy greens like kale supply valuable antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, as do avocados (which also support eye health by increasing absorption of antioxidants from other foods). Carrots, red peppers, and sweet potatoes are good sources of the antioxidant beta carotene. These antioxidants play an important role in keeping your eyes healthy and your vision sharp. Vitamin C (which you get in citrus fruits as well as sweet red and green peppers), omega 3 fats (from salmon and walnuts) and zinc (from nuts and beans) help prevent age-related eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Quit smoking: If you smoke, quitting now can help keep your eyes healthy as you age. Smoking can increase your risk of age-related eye problems and can also damage your optic nerve, causing vision loss.
- Take frequent screen breaks: When you stare at a screen for long periods you don’t blink as often as you would otherwise. This can lead to dryer eyes, fatigue and eyestrain. Taking frequent breaks can help. When you’re at the computer, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look up from your screen and focus on a point about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight increases your risk of many diseases, including ones like diabetes and high blood pressure that can impact your eye health. Regular exercise can help you control your weight and also helps prevent some of the health conditions that increase your risk of eye disease.
- Wear protective eyewear: It’s important to keep your eyes safe in the sun and when doing activities (sports, construction, factory jobs) that can injure your eyes. Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of harmful UV rays and protective glasses or goggles appropriate to your sport or other activities.
- Schedule eye exams as recommended: Ignoring your eye health is never a good idea. Eye exam frequency varies according to your age and overall health. Be sure to see an eyecare professional as needed for a thorough exam and any recommended tests.
- Using contact lenses safely: If you’re considering getting contact lenses or you already wear them, you will need an eye exam annually to renew your prescription. In many cases, you can renew your prescription with an online eye exam. It’s also important to practice good contact lens care to help prevent eye infections. Remove and clean your lenses nightly and never wear a pair of contacts for longer than is recommended.
- Know your family history and risk factors: Be sure to share your personal and family health history with your eyecare provider. Having high blood pressure or a family history of glaucoma can affect your own eye health. Giving your eyecare professional this information allows them to properly assess your risk of eye problems and provide preventive eyecare.
The QE Perspective: Taking care of our eyes via preventive measures — frequent screen breaks, UV protection, digital eye health checks, and in-person visits when
necessary — is vital to overall mental health and productivity. But any one measure alone isn’t enough. Keeping your eyes healthy and preventing problems requires a holistic approach that encompasses several factors that add up to better vision for life.