May is Healthy Vision Month, a great time for you and your family to make eye health a priority and remember the following tips from the National Eye Institute:
• Get an annual eye exam: You might think your vision is in good shape or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to be completely certain. When it comes to common vision problems, many people don’t realize their vision could be improved with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration often have no symptoms. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil. We use a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and look for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the examination, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
• Live a healthy lifestyle: Living an overall healthy life is good for your eyes. You can start taking steps toward living a healthy life by:
Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.
Eating healthy foods. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes, but eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, is important for keeping your eyes healthy too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.
Not smoking. Smoking is as bad for your eyes 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.
Managing chronic conditions. Many conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis, can greatly impact vision, resulting in inflammation of the optic nerve, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and even blindness. Managing these conditions with the help of your health care provider can often prevent these eye problems from occurring.
• Know your family history: Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease, since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease yourself.
• Use protective eyewear: Did you know that each day, about 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment? Or that every 13 minutes, an ER in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury? Protecting your eyes with the right eyewear can prevent those injuries from happening—that includes safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.
• Wear sunglasses: Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Some of the sun’s effects on the eyes include:
- Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision. An estimated 20% of cases are caused by extended UV exposure.
- Macular degeneration, resulting from damage to the retina that destroys central vision. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
- Pterygium, a tissue growth over the white part of the surface of the eye that can alter the curve of the eyeball, causing astigmatism.
When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation, so you can keep your vision sharp and eyes healthy. A hat offers great protection, too!
May is a great month to schedule your annual eye exam and/or get answers to your eye health questions. Please call us at 636.728.0111.