An Eye Specialist’s Guide to Maintaining Good Eye Health
Your eyes are an important aspect of how you interpret what goes on around you. Our eyes are highly developed sensory organs, consisting of millions of moving parts. Each plays an important role in helping you see properly.
The importance of eyesight cannot be overlooked. In fact, in a recent poll about sensory loss, the majority of participants voted they would miss their sense of sight over any of the other five senses. Despite this, many people tend to take their eyesight for granted.
As a general rule, many eye specialists recommend having a comprehensive eye exam every one or two years, depending on certain factors like age and existing health conditions.
Yet, because vision and ocular health conditions aren’t often accompanied by obvious symptoms, many people forgo the need for periodic optometric exams. Too often, this exposes people to unnecessary risks and can result in a certain degree of vision loss.
Your eyes are your windows to the world. Maintain your eye health and keep your vision sharp with the following tips. Each tip is simple and easy to do, keeping your vision well cared for all year round.
1. Protect your eyes from the sun
From summer picnics to winter sports, outdoor activities make your eyes susceptible to harmful UV rays. You can protect your eyes from sun damage by wearing sunglasses or wide-brimmed hats. Both protect your eyes from damaging UV rays.
When choosing sunglasses, choose a pair that reduces glare, filters out nearly 100 percent of UV rays, and is large enough to completely cover your eyes. Be sure to read the label to confirm that the sunglasses block 99 to 100 percent of harmful UV rays.
2. Wear protective eyewear during DIY projects
No matter the size of the home improvement project, safety should always come first. This includes wearing a good pair of safety glasses.
While you might be tempted to wear your normal vision correction glasses during a DIY project, those glasses are not impact-resistant. Numerous airborne particulates can shatter your vision correction lenses on impact. Some liquids can also result in disastrous consequences.
This can lead to a serious eye injury, or worse, vision loss. Avoid this risk by investing in quality, tight-fitting protective eyewear. Buy polycarbonate safety glasses that conform to your face. This will protect your eyes from any potential hazards during your DIY project.
3. Get active
Physical activity is a great way to stave off several diseases that can cause degenerative eye conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Poor management of diabetes and high blood pressure can cause diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and eye strokes.
All of these conditions can lead to vision loss.
To lower your risk of developing such diseases, aim to perform a moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Examples of physical activity include:
- Brisk walking
- Aerobic dancing
- Resistance training
- Water aerobics
- Household chores
And to keep your body and eyes healthy and revitalized for daily physical activity, get sufficient shut-eye each day.
4. Eat a balanced diet
Like physical activity, good nutrition helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing harmful eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy.
Several foods can help boost your eye health. These include:
- Cold-water fish
- Nuts and legumes
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy green vegetables
- Sweet potatoes
It should also come as no surprise that drinking plenty of water can also benefit your eye health. Not only can water hydrate you during and after exercising, but it can also prevent your eyes from becoming dehydrated. This helps reduce eye strain and dry eye syndrome from occurring.
5. Don’t smoke
Smoking tobacco has long been associated with increasing your risk of heart disease and lung cancer. However, studies also show that smoking can be a contributing factor to vision loss.
Smoking can increase your risk for several sight-threatening vision problems like:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Dry eye syndrome
- Transient ischemic attack
- Grave’s disease
As smoking is the largest preventable cause of blindness, simply quitting can lower your risk of vision impairment. To further lower your risk of vision impairment, avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
Heavy drinking has toxic effects that can decrease visual performance and lead to optic neuropathy. To avoid increasing your risk for alcohol use disorders, stick to the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption.
This means consuming two or fewer drinks per day for adult-aged men and one drink per day for adult-aged women.
6. Limit your screen use
Today’s fast-paced society means more and more people are glued to their screens. From TVs to laptops and mobile phones, people are spending more time staring at glare-emitting screens. This increased screen time is giving your eyes an exhausting endurance workout.
All of this prolonged screen time can result in eye fatigue. This can lead to blurred vision, eye strain, and other long-term vision problems. And while digital screens are an inevitable part of daily life, there are things you can do to give your eyes some respite from the prolonged strain.
The main thing you can do to prevent eye strain is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away or further. This will allow your eye muscles to relax and limit eye strain.
In addition to giving your eyes a break, adjust your environment’s lighting. Your ambient lighting should be a lower intensity than your device’s light. This will minimize glare, which can cause eye strain.
7. Have your eyes checked periodically
Unlike other diseases, many vision-related problems do not come with recognizable signs or symptoms. And because eye problems develop slowly, it isn’t always easy to tell whether or not your eye complaint is a harmless annoyance or an early sign of a serious issue.
To ensure it’s not the latter, do your due diligence and see the best ophthalmologist in your location every one or two years, or more frequently depending on any health conditions you may have.
Frequency guidelines as to how often you should go visit an eye doctor are as follows:
- Children should have their first eye exam between six to nine months, then one eye exam between the ages of two to five years. School-age children should have an annual exam.
- Adults aged 18 to 60 should undergo a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years. “At-risk” adults, or those with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes or a family history of eye disease, should have more frequent eye exams.
- Older adults aged 61 and older should have an annual eye examination to detect age-related vision conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
The cost of an eye exam will vary according to certain factors like where you live and whether or not it is covered by insurance. Visit a reputable eye clinic to discuss your options.
Caring for your vision
Taking a proactive approach to eye care can contribute to a lifetime of healthy vision. While the tips above can help you take better care of your eyes, your eye doctor should be your first resource in avoiding preventable vision loss.
Dr. Millicent M. Grim, Specialist Ophthalmologist & LASIK Specialist, is the Medical Director of Gulf Eye Center in Dubai. Since 2002, Gulf Eye Center’s highly qualified ophthalmologists and optometrists/ODs have been successfully treating a wide range of eye conditions using advanced techniques. They also provide comprehensive eye care and vision restoration procedures for people of all ages.