Every year since 1927, the American Optometric Association has designated March as , making it one of our favorite months! This annual observance gives us the opportunity to remind our patients about the importance of their eye health, as well as what they can do to keep their eyes healthy. In honor of this month, here are some tips you can use to protect your eyes and support your sight:
1. Use Proper Eyewear & Treat Your Eyewear Properly
There are many different kinds of eyewear, like glasses, sunglasses, blue light glasses, contacts, protective glasses, and more. Though we usually think of eyewear as correcting vision, that’s not all eyewear can do for you. For instance:
- Sunglasses are more than just a cool accessory. In fact, they’re an important tool in maintaining your eye health. These tinted glasses block most of the sun’s ultraviolet rays from reaching your eyes, not only making it more comfortable to see on a sunny day, but also protecting your eyes from issues like macular degeneration and cataracts. Keep that in mind next time winter rolls around; though we think of sunglasses as a summer staple, they do an important job year-round.
- Blue light glasses are newer to the eyewear scene. These are glasses with a special coating that blocks out blue light from electronic screens, functioning like sunglasses for your computer or phone. This blue light can cause issues like eye strain and dry eyes, causing discomfort and difficulty using these devices, whether that be for work or fun. As well as using blue light glasses, you can also practice the 20-20-20 rule, or looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This can give your eyes a much-needed break from blue light, too.
- Protective eyewear is crucial for various jobs and tasks that put your eyes at risk. Whether you’re a construction worker, carpenter, hobbyist woodworker, or doing a weekend DIY project on your house, it’s important to wear goggles or safety glasses. After all, even a simple scratch from sawdust, cement, or drywall can cause damage to the cornea and life-long vision problems.
Though wearing the right kind of eyewear is an important first step, taking good care of your eyewear is just as important! For example, contact lenses are a common kind of eyewear, but unfortunately, many Americans don’t care for their contacts properly. This can lead to issues like dry eye and serious eye infections. If you wear contacts, make sure that you’re replacing your lenses on time, (opens in a new tab), never using your spit or tap water in place of solution, and taking them out before heading to bed.
2. Clean Up Your Makeup
Though makeup doesn’t count as eyewear, it should still be acknowledged when discussing eye health due to its potential dangers. When applied improperly or kept for too long, makeup can cause issues like corneal scratches and infections. Make sure to follow these tips next time you do your makeup:
- Never apply makeup in a moving vehicle. This “time-saving” strategy can put your eyes in an incredibly dangerous situation if the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, runs over a pothole, or is hit by another vehicle. An eye pencil, mascara wand, or even a fingernail can cause serious damage in this kind of situation.
- Replace your old makeup. Mascara and liquid eyeliners every 3 months, and your eyeshadows and pencil liners every year. Old, expired eye cosmetics can become a breeding ground for bacteria, potentially opening you up to infection.
- Keep everything clean. Washing your hands before doing your makeup, cleaning your brushes and other applicators, as well as not borrowing makeup from other people are also good ways to avoid a potential eye infection.
3. Keep Your Overall Health in Mind
Taking good care of your whole body is another great way to take care of your eyes. While you might not think that things like your diet, weight, and activity levels contribute to your eye health, these factors can go a long way in increasing or reducing your risk of certain conditions. For instance:
- Diet. A balanced diet that includes key nutrients found in leafy green vegetables, berries, beets, citrus fruits, and some fish (those high in Omega 3s) can go a long way in maintaining all aspects of your health, including your eyesight.
- Weight. Though it is widely known that obesity can increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes or heart disease, many people don’t know that obesity also increases a person’s risk of developing major eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy.
- Activity. Exercise does many good things for your body, like reducing your blood pressure, improving your cholesterol levels, and strengthening your heart, and it can also help you reduce your risk of multiple eye conditions.
- Smoking. Smoking has been shown to significantly increase a person’s risk of developing many eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, AMD, and diabetic retinopathy. Luckily, a person who quits smoking can greatly reduce their risk.
4. Schedule Your Annual Eye Exam
Seeing your eye doctor every year is perhaps the most important thing you can do to protect your eye health. Though many people put off making an appointment until a problem with their vision comes up, this can be potentially dangerous. Many eye diseases that cause blindness can be spotted during a comprehensive eye exam long before a person would start showing symptoms, allowing for early treatment and better outcomes.
For instance, is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, but as many as half of the individuals living with it in the United States have no idea they are suffering from the disease, but an ophthalmologist would be able to identify the disease during an exam. Plus, people with early-stage and don’t always show any symptoms, making early diagnosis during an eye exam key to preventing irreversible vision loss.
If you haven’t had your annual eye exam yet, take the opportunity to schedule a visit with us today!