Sight is one of our most treasured senses, yet millions of people across the globe have vision impairment. In many cases, such conditions could have been prevented through early diagnosis and treatment.
Do not let another day of 2022 go by without considering what steps you can take to preserve the precious gift of sight. Elena Roth, M.D., an ophthalmologist at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, shares her top suggestions for eye care.
1. Schedule an eye exam for yourself and your family
Get a comprehensive eye exam. These exams screen for eye disease and detect any issues with overall eye health. They also provide a significant level of comfort knowing that a medical professional has your up-to-date records for easy reference.
2. Learn family history regarding risk factors
Know who in your family may be at risk for eye disease so that you might catch potential signs early. Such steps are essential to preventing common vision-threatening conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. Be aware that family history, race, gender, and lifestyle can all contribute to eye conditions. Related information helps your doctor prevent eye disease and promote the optimum vision for you and your family.
3. Include eye-healthy foods in your diet
Foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants play an essential role in the health of your eyes. A proper diet can reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye problems. Include foods rich in beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin (spinach, kale, red/orange peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash). Also, consider bioflavonoids (tea, citric fruits, blueberries, cherries, legumes, soy products). Enjoy foods with Omega-3 fatty acids (cold-water fish, ground flaxseeds, walnuts) and fruits, vegetables, and other foods rich in vitamins A, C, and D. Zinc is also linked to eye health and is found in oysters, beef, and dark-meat turkey.
4. Wear eye protection as needed at work, home, and play
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, hospital emergency rooms treat more than 700,000 work-related eye injuries each year. Additionally, 125,000 eye injuries occur at home, and there are 40,000 sports-related eye injuries annually. Speak to your eye doctor about work, hobbies, and athletic activities to determine needed protective eyewear. Also, remember that quality sunglasses help prevent severe eye conditions, including macular degeneration, cataracts, non-cancerous and cancerous growths. They also help prevent eye injuries from everyday elements such as snow, wind, sand, and dust. It is important to always use sunglasses to protect your eyes when leaving your home. When choosing the right pair of sunglasses, ensure they are 100% UVA and UVB. Sunglasses are just as important as sunscreen. In fact, picking the right pair can protect your eyes from both long and short-term damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun.
5. Note the 20-20-20 Rule
Spending long periods looking at a computer, phone, or tablet screen can cause eye strain. Using the 20-20-20 rule can help prevent this problem. The rule is easy to follow. For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Easy, right? You can also rest your eyes by closing them for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
6. Wash your make-up brushes
Wash your make-up brushes regularly — in fact, instead of a New Year resolution, you should make this a "New Month" resolution.
The hair in your make-up brushes is porous and holds oil, debris, and bacteria that you do not want in your eyes. Simply use your favorite facial cleanser or shampoo on your brushes, rinse well, and let them dry. Do not forget to throw away your old mascara too.
Written by Ann Carney, contributing writer for Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
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