The fact that you’re reading this blog right now highlights just how vital our eyes are to our daily life. Healthy eyes help children learn more easily, allow adults to navigate the world more easily, and improve our quality of life overall at every age. Your eyes undeniably do a lot for you. But do you show your eyes the appreciation they deserve in return?
Loss of sight due to aging and illness is a serious problem and is something we understandably fear. Fortunately, proper care today will reduce your risk of suffering from vision problems tomorrow.
With the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimating more than 43 million Americans will develop age-related eye diseases by 2020, this Healthy Vision Month is the perfect time to ensure that you are doing all that you can for your eyes. Specifically, we recommend following these five basic eye care guidelines:
1) See your eye doctor every year. Scheduling an annual eye exam is one of the best ways you can care for your eyes. Eye exams do more than give you an updated vision prescription for your glasses. They also give doctors an opportunity to detect eye diseases that do not develop outwardly noticeable symptoms until they are very advanced - and much harder to treat. But finding a problem early, thanks to an exam, will give your care team a better chance of helping you see clearly as long as possible.
2) Know your family history. Just like your physical health, many eye diseases have a genetic component that doctors need to know about and consider when treating and screening patients. For example, it’s important to tell an eye doctor if your family has a history of diabetes or high blood pressure, as these illnesses can cause eye problems as they progress. Other important conditions in your family history that need to be mentioned include Age-Related Macular Degeneration and glaucoma.
3) Seek medical care for sudden vision changes and symptoms. While minor changes in vision can wait to be addressed at an annual exam, major changes that develop quickly should not be put off. For example, even if you just had an annual eye exam – or if you’re coming in for one soon – you should call your eye doctor immediately if you begin to have trouble seeing; if you experience eye pain or swelling of the eye; if you develop double or hazy vision; or if you see flashes or lights, floaters or halos of light in your field of vision.
4) Don’t forget protective eye gear. Aging and disease aren’t the only things that can steal your eyesight away. Injuries can as well. So your eyes need to be protected from the dangers associated with certain activities that pose a risk to your eyes. If you play sports, for example, always wear any head and eye gear associated with that sport to protect your eyes from being damaged while you play. And if you work with tools (at work, at home, or otherwise), you’ll want to wear safety glasses to ensure that no debris or sharp objects damage your eyes while you work.
5) Maintain a healthy lifestyle. You’ve heard it before: exercising, eating right, limiting your exposure to sunlight, and not smoking will help keep you healthy. The same is true for your eyes. Here’s how:
- Research has found a link between regular exercise and a lower risk of eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, and wet age-related macular degeneration. Exercise will also reduce your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet filled with fruit, leafy greens and fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Smoking has been shown to increase people’s risk of developing eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Quitting or avoiding the habit altogether will go a long way in keeping your eyes healthy.
- Your eyes, like your skin, are susceptible to damage from UV rays in sunlight. Wearing proper sunglasses – meaning sunglasses equipped with UV protection properties – will limit your eyes’ exposure to ultraviolet rays, reducing your risk of developing eye problems such as cataracts.
These five eye care guidelines, while small on their own, will make a major healthy difference when added together! While following these steps can’t guarantee that you’ll never experience an eye or vision problem, following them will still go a long way in decreasing your risk of developing a preventable vision-related health issue. With Healthy Vision Month coming up fast, now is the time to ask: are you adhering to these eye care guidelines?
If you have concerns or questions we did not address in this blog, not to worry! Our team would be happy to provide personalized advice and feedback regarding your vision needs and care. Call an Everett and Hurite office near you today, or contact us online to request your appointment and meet with one of our eye care experts.