Vision problems are often caused by diseases and conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, that are preventable. Taking care of your body, protecting your eyes, and seeing an eye specialist will go a long way in helping to maintain healthy vision.
Take Care of Your Body
The National Eye Institute (NEI) provides the following tips for healthy vision.
Eat healthy foods that are also good for your eyes. Dark, leafy greens, including spinach, kale, and collard greens, help prevent macular degeneration. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, tuna, and halibut, help reduce your risk of developing dry eyes.
Include activities into your daily routine that get your body moving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises or any activities that get your heart beating faster, including bicycling, swimming or water aerobics, brisk walking, playing sports, and pushing a lawnmower. The CDC also recommends muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week, including weight-lifting, working with resistance bands, bodyweight resistance exercises like pushups and sit ups, heavy gardening that involves digging and shoveling, and some forms of yoga.
Give up bad habits that harm your body’s health, including smoking. The NEI warns, “smoking increases your risk of diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts - and it can harm the optic nerve.”
Stay on top of long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. According to the CDC, “90% of blindness caused by diabetes is preventable.” Your primary care doctor can help you achieve your health goals by monitoring your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol as needed.
Protect Your Eyes
Everyday activities, such as walking outside, playing sports, doing home repairs, looking at your computer, reading, and wearing contacts have the potential to cause harm to your eyes. Protect your eyes from harm by following these helpful tips from the NEI.
Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses even on cloudy days. UVA and UVB radiation can harm your vision, but sunglasses block 99 to 100 percent of both types of radiation.
Protect your eyes by wearing protective eyewear. Safety goggles and glasses are designed to protect eyes against physical damage from various activities, including playing sports and doing construction work and home repairs. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is ten times stronger than other plastics.
Give your eyes a rest from looking at a computer or book for a long time. The CDC recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: “rest your eyes by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.”
If you wear contacts, prevent eye infections by washing your hands before touching your contact lenses, disinfecting your contact lenses, and replacing your contact lenses regularly.
See an Eye Specialist
Many eye diseases do not have early symptoms and can lead to vision loss if not caught early. Schedule an appointment with an eye specialist and ask about a dilated eye exam. Dilated eye exams allow doctors to see the backs of your eyes and are the only way to catch eye diseases early.
Your eye specialist may also ask you about your eye health history because glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration can run in families. Talk with your relatives about eye problems in your family and share what you learn with your doctor.