Seeing your way to keeping your eyes healthy and bright.
The National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health proposes ten steps for keeping your baby blues (or browns, or greens, or hazels) in good working order.
- Have regular, comprehensive eye exams. A comprehensive, dilated eye exam by your eye care professional is the only way to really be sure if your eyes are healthy. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you, but in general you should get an eye exam every 1 to 2 years if you: are over age 60; are African American and over age 40; have a family history of glaucoma. If you suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor how often you should be checked.
- Know your family’s eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary.
- Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly. To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. This is especially important today with the risks of COVID-19.
- Eat right to protect your sight. 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. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.
- Maintain 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.
- Wear protective eyewear. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home that involve cleaning chemicals or power tools.
- Quit smoking or never start. 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, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
- Wear your shades. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
- Give your eyes a rest. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
- Practice workplace eye safety. Make it a habit to wear the appropriate eye protection at all times – and encourage your co-workers to do the same.