5 Practical Ways to Keep Your Vision Healthy in 2020
Why is it important to take care of your eyes? Taking care of your eyes is extremely important since they’re essential for maintaining your quality of life. Whether it’s driving, cooking, or reading, you need healthy vision to complete simple tasks that many of us take for granted.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to help protect your vision during 2020 and beyond. To do this, you should:
- Get a dilated eye exam
- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses all year long
- Eat good foods for eye health
- Quit smoking
- Avoid digital eye strain
Our vision changes over time and across our circumstances. Thankfully, there are practical steps we can all take to help ensure a lifetime of healthy vision.
1. Get a Dilated Eye Exam
You’ve probably heard of pupil dilation. However, you may not know what to expect if you’ve never had an eye exam that includes it. Also known as comprehensive eye exams, this type of exam is the best way to catch eye diseases early when they’re easiest to treat. This not only protects your short-term vision, but can help prevent long-term vision loss and even blindness.
Pupil dilation is simple and painless. It allows more light to enter your eye so problems are easier to spot. This helps your optometrist begin treatment early on before issues such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy become more serious.
Dilated eye exams become more necessary depending on certain variables. For instance, you should be getting your eyes dilated every year if you:
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Are 60+ years old
- Are African American and 40+ years old
- Have high blood pressure
- Have Diabetes
Be sure to recruit a friend or family member to help you after you get your eyes dilated. You may experience sensitivity to light or blurred vision which can make getting home more difficult than usual.
2. Wear UV-Block Sunglasses All Year Long
Believe it or not, your eyes can actually get a sunburn (photokeratitis). What may be even more surprising is that this can happen at any time of year! This is because UV-B rays get reflected off of surfaces such as bodies of water and snow. The result is inflammation of the cornea that can result in pain and even temporary vision loss.
UV sunlight can cause cataracts, growths in and around the eye, and can also damage your macula. This is why investing in a quality pair of prescription sunglasses is so important. Along with wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV-A and UV-B rays which can cause temporary discomfort as well as long-term issues further down the road.
How to Choose a Pair of Prescription Sunglasses
Choosing a pair of prescription sunglasses can be time-consuming but the benefits will last a lifetime. Look for a pair that:
- Blocks 99 – 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays, or is rated UV400 or higher
- Fits comfortably close to your face
- Has high-quality lenses
- Has polarized lenses
If you spend a lot of time outdoors or playing sports then you may benefit from polycarbonate lenses. These are made from impact-resistant material that will give you peace of mind if you’re likely to damage them.
3. Eat Good Foods for Eye Health
Like most things involving physical health, nutrition plays a key component in ensuring everything is working properly. Nutrition needs vary by age, so what an adult needs in order to keep their eyes healthy may not be the same as what a baby, child, or teenager requires. Establishing healthy eating habits early will ensure a lifetime of vision and overall health.
Eating a healthy diet is a good idea no matter what your health goals are. On the other hand, there are certain foods you should choose if you’re looking to boost the health of your eyes. This includes foods that are full of:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
Foods that have omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are also always a good idea when it comes to vision and overall health. You can get all these by eating more:
- Whole grains
- Citrus fruits
- Dark leafy greens
- Vegetable oils
- Cold-water fish
By eating a healthy and varied diet, you’ll be protecting your eyes as well as the rest of your body. Look for recipes that you and your whole family will enjoy to sneak more of these foods into your diet. Leafy-green vegetables are the best source of nutrients for eye health.
4. Quit Smoking
You already know that smoking is bad for your health. However, you may not be aware that smoking tobacco can be especially harmful to your vision! Whether it’s cigarettes, pipes, or cigars, you’re damaging your body in all sorts of ways by smoking.
Smokers are at a much higher risk of developing cataracts than non-smokers. Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to become cloudy rather than clear and results in dim or blurred vision. Cataracts develop naturally with age, but smoking greatly increases your chances of developing them.
Smoking also increases your chances of developing AMD. This causes you to lose your central vision, which is your ability to see finer details directly in front of you. Medicine and surgery may be able to help alleviate symptoms of AMD, but there is currently no cure.
Other smoking-related vision issues include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Optic nerve problems
- Grave’s disease
Stop smoking immediately to prevent or decrease your chances of developing these eye problems. It won’t only protect your vision, but your quality of life as well.
5. Avoid Digital Eye Strain
It should come as no surprise that staring at screens all day can affect your vision. According to The Vision Council, “About 80 percent of American adults report using digital devices for more than two hours per day with nearly 67 percent using two or more devices simultaneously, and 59 percent report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain.”
You’ll want to discuss how to prevent digital eye strain with your eye care professional. In the meantime, there are certain steps you can be taking to help protect your eyes from the effects of digital screens.
To protect your vision, make sure that you are:
- Taking regular breaks when looking at digital screens for long periods of time
- Keeping an arm’s distance away from the screen to maintain a proper viewing distance
- Increasing text size to reduce eye strain
- Turning down any overhead lights to reduce glare from the screen
Digital screens aren’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Start doing what you can now to protect yourself from the effects of digital eye strain to keep your vision in tip-top shape!
Protecting your eyes is extremely important for maintaining your quality of life. You can do this by getting regular dilated eye exams to help spot any developing issues with your vision. You should also wear quality prescription sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays all year long. Maintain good nutrition that supports eye health and quit smoking to avoid the harmful effects of tobacco. You should also take steps to limit digital eye strain.