Have you been researching “How to protect my eyes” and getting a lot of conflicting information? The fact is, your visual health is vital to your overall quality of life. From healthy habits to eye safety, the preventative measures you take right now can make a difference in the future of your vision.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Living an overall healthy lifestyle and adopting everyday healthy habits are just as important to your eyes as the rest of your body.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Taking in the right nutrients, such as zinc, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids, may help lower risks of everything from cataracts to other visual health issues like macular degeneration. A few foods to include in your diet to ensure you are consuming a healthy diet include:
- Oily fish like tuna or salmon
- Eggs and plant-based protein sources, such as beans and nuts
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges or grapefruit or citrus juices
- Kale, collard greens, spinach and other leafy greens
Don't Smoke, and If You Do, Quit
If you are a smoker, do your best to quit. Smoking is notoriously bad for the body and is just as harmful to your eyes. Ample research has found that smoking increases the risk of optic nerve damage, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). All of these serious eye health conditions are known to cause blindness.
Maintain Your Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes affects your eyes, especially if your blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Research indicates that as much as 90 percent of blindness is caused by diabetes. Remember the ABCs of diabetes management: keep your A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Work closely with your healthcare team if you have been diagnosed with diabetes to keep your levels at a healthy place.
Get Enough Sleep
Your eyes need enough good downtime during sleep. When your eyes get tired, they can feel irritated and dry. This is why people tend to rub their eyes when they are sleepy. Unfortunately, this can also put you at risk of getting bacteria or irritants in your eyes.
Practice Eye Safety
Part of taking good care of your eyes is protecting your eyes from damage. Everyday activities and exposure can mean your eyes are exposed to unnecessary risks.
Don't Wear Contacts in the Pool
Before swimming, or even showering, bathing or spending time in a hot tub, take out your contact lenses. Bacteria from the water can get trapped behind the lenses, leading to a corneal infection.
Wash Your Hands
Several contagious illnesses can be spread by touching your eyes. For example, conjunctivitis (pink eye) is highly contagious and is commonly spread when people touch their faces or eyes. To avoid these issues, wash your hands regularly, especially when around others.
Go for Goggles When Swimming
Goggles are the best way to protect your eyes when swimming. Swimmer’s eye (a condition that leads to eye irritation) and chemical-related or bacterial pink eye often stem from not wearing protective eyewear while swimming.
Practice Workplace Eye Safety
Always wear the appropriate protective eyewear on the job when it is required. Every day in the U.S., about 2,000 workers injure their eyes.
Wear Eye Protection During Outdoor Activities
Eye protection can be just as important during certain activities at home. Yard work, woodworking and even some DIY construction projects can put your eyes at risk of corneal injury. While these injuries tend to heal quickly within a few days, some activities pose especially high risks of injury.
Know Your Family’s Eye Health History
Get to know your family history of visual health conditions and diseases. Many eye conditions are considered hereditary, which means your risks may be higher for certain conditions if family members have been diagnosed. Knowing this means you can talk to your eye doctor about early condition monitoring and preventative steps you can take.
Practice Preventive Habits
Exposure to UV light and excessive screen time are related to visual health issues. Get proactive about protecting your vision from these threats.
Wear Your Sunglasses
Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure is related to conditions like AMD and cataracts. Extreme exposure can even lead to photokeratitis, a sunburn on your eye. Be sure to wear sunglasses capable of blocking UV rays any time you spend time in the sun, no matter the season.
Limit Screen Time
Screen glare is known to cause computer vision syndrome and excessive eye strain. Limit screen time as much as possible, but also:
- Keep computer screens positioned at arm’s length
- Keep handheld devices at least 16 inches from your eyes
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule; Look away from your screen every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away, blink 20 times
Another tip, every 20 minutes, make a point to get up and walk 20 paces. This forces your eyes to work differently but is also good for your body.
Have a Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam
A comprehensive dilated eye exam is an important way to protect your eyes. Not only will the exam determine if you could benefit from corrective lenses, but it can also detect several eye diseases during the exam. For example, AMD, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma often start with no noticeable symptoms in the early stages but can reveal signs during a dilated eye exam.