Our eyes are a very important part of our health, as they allow us to see and make sense of the world. Keeping our eyes healthy involves more than just an occasional visit to the doctor, as what we eat, what we wear and how we exercise can all play a role in our health. With our eyes, certain diseases can cause vision loss so it’s important to get your eyes checked if there are any changes in your vision or get seen as often are your physician recommends. In this Health Journal, we are going to discuss our eyes, how to keep them healthy and what tips you should follow to help keep these all important part of our bodies as healthy as possible.
Eye care tips:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet: Generally, your diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially yellow and green leafy vegetables. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E help ward off age-related vision problems. Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna can also help your eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids are very beneficial in helping dry eye syndrome and help produce more oil in the eye. A well-balanced diet also helps you stay at a healthy weight and lower your chances of obesity and type-2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults.
- Wear sunglasses: We have probably all gone outside early in the morning and that first bit of sun takes our eyes by surprise. Sun exposure can damage your eyes and raise the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. To protect your eyes, wear sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Wrap around lenses also help protect your eyes from the side, and while polarized glasses reduce glare while driving, they don’t necessarily offer added protection.
- Quit smoking: Smoking puts you at a higher risk of cataracts, damage to the optic nerve and macular degeneration, among other medical issues. Smoking is a hard habit to quit, but it’s important to keep trying even if you have failed in the past. The more times you try to quit smoking, the more likely you are to succeed. You can always seek the help of your medical provider, as they might have some helpful advice.
- Look away from computer screen: Staring at a computer screen for too long can cause a long list of issues including eyestrain, blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches and neck pain. It’s good to give yourself breaks in between although sometimes work situations make it tough to get away. A few minutes away can do your eyes and long term health a great deal of good, so try to prioritize taking a few breaks when possible.
A few additional tips for those of us who spend a lot of time on a computer, make sure your eyes are level with the top of the monitor, as this will allow you to look slightly down at the screen. Also ensure that your glasses or contacts prescription is up to date and are good for looking at a computer screen.
Dr. visits & tests:
Just like we should visit our primary care doctor on a regular basis, it’s important to do the same with your eye doctor. An eye exam is something we have probably all done before since many schools offer these checkups as well, but not all exams are the same.
- General Screening: This type of eye exam usually follows a few steps. First, the measurement of your visual acuity to see if you need glasses or contact lenses. You will go through a series of machines and tests to ensure your vision is working properly and you currently have the correct prescription for your eyes.
- Comprehensive Dilated exam: These eye exams are especially important because some eye diseases may not have warning signs and these exams are the only way to identify them in their early stages, when they are easier to treat. The exam includes:
- A visual field test to measure your side (peripheral) vision. A loss of peripheral vison may be a sign of glaucoma.
- A visual acuity test, where you read an eye chart from 20 feet away, to check on how well you see at various distances.
- Tonometry, which measures your eyes interior pressure. It also help to detect glaucoma.
- Dilation, which involves getting eye drops that dilate your pupils. This allows more light to enter the eye and provides a clear view of important tissues at the back of the eye, including retina, macula and optic nerve.