Do's and Don'ts for Improved Eye Health
Our eyes open our minds to the world around us. They let us take in the beauty that this life and this planet have to offer.
Interestingly, our eyes also have the most active muscles in our bodies. We blink 15-20 times per minute. Our eyes contain millions of light-sensitive cells called cone cells and rod cells that allow us to see the world the way we do.
As we age, our vision changes. It is absolutely normal to experience some kind of visual decline after the age of 40.
Why does this happen?
The eye is made up of various structures, including the cornea, the iris, the pupil, the lens, the retina, the macula, and the optic nerve.
Around the age of 40, the lens begins to harden. The lens helps focus light rays into the retina. The retina takes these light rays and sends an electric impulse to the optic nerve, which then relays the image to your brain. When the lens hardens over time, the eye loses its ability to focus on close objects. Most people get reading glasses to counteract these effects.
Cataracts and macular degeneration may also occur through your senior years. Cataracts is a clouding of the lens part of the eye. Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, a small part of the retina that allows us to see detail.
However, many of these conditions can be amplified if you don’t take care of your eye health early on.
Here are your dos and don’ts for optimal eye health. Put your health first and take care of your eyes before they become a problem. You only get one pair!
Do Book an Eye Exam Every 1-2 Years
Like a doctor or dental appointment, getting your eyes checked out is essential for good lifelong vision. Your optometrist can catch diseases or vision problems before they become bigger issues. Early diagnosis can mean early intervention. Get your eyes checked annually, or at least every second year. Put your eye health first - it’s worth it.
Do Wear Sunglasses
Sunglasses aren’t just a cool summer accessory. They protect your eyes and the delicate skin around them. UV ray damage happens over your lifetime and can lead to macular degeneration and cataracts. When buying sunglasses, consider not just the style but also how well the glasses protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays.
Protect your vision and get into the habit of wearing sunglasses on the regular.
Do Wear Sunscreen
Your parents weren’t messing around when they told you to put your sunscreen on before heading out into the sun.
Skin cancer is a serious risk. It can occur on any part of sun-exposed skin, including your eyelids or around your eyes. Sunscreen it up! Protect the skin around your eyes. Facial sunscreen won’t irritate the sensitive skin on your face and will protect you against those harmful rays.
Do Take Computer or TV Breaks
Staring at a screen for too long is bad for your eyes. We know this.
Digital eye strain is common in people that spend long hours working in front of a computer, or anyone who spends a significant time looking at screens in their daily lives. It can create dry eyes, strained necks, and pain in the eyes. Make sure you blink often when working in front of a screen. Take breaks every 10-15 minutes. Try the 10-10-10 method: every 10 minutes, gaze at an object about 10 feet away for at least 10 seconds. Look away or stand up and stretch out. It will give time for your eyes to relax.
Do Get Enough Sleep
On average, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Surprisingly, many lack the appropriate amount of sleep each night. How can this impact your eye health? Eye spasms, popped blood vessels, and dry eyes can happen when you don’t get enough shut-eye. Not exactly ideal. Yet another reason to get a good night’s rest each and every night.
Do Wash Your Hands Regularly
Proper hand washing helps you avoid the common cold and flu. It can also help protect you against harmful bacteria or viruses affecting the eyes, such as pink eye. Wash your hands before touching your eyes or putting your contacts in. It not only protects your eye health, but puts your overall health first.
Do Eat a Balanced and Healthy Diet
Night blindness is a major sign of Vitamin A deficiency. Eating a balanced and healthy diet containing the proper amount of nutrients and vitamins can help thwart eye problems. Vitamin A, in particular, can help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts later in life. Looking for a good source of Vitamin A? You won’t need to look far — carrots provide an excellent source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which both help promote good eye health.
Don’t Stare Directly at the Sun
Staring directly at the sun can cause significant UV ray damage. It can lead to cataracts and not so great vision. Avoid staring directly at the sun, as enticing as it may be. Wear those sunglasses.
We know that smoking is bad for our lungs. Surprisingly though, it is also terrible for your eye health. Smokers are more likely to develop cataracts, macular degeneration, uveitis (inflammation in the eye), diabetic retinopathy, and dry eyes. If you are a smoker, work toward quitting. It isn’t worth the health consequences, including possible vision loss.
Don’t Read in the Dark
Reading in the dark or in low light can lead to eye strain. Eye strain can create blurred vision, eye pain, and headaches. If you must read in the dark, use a book light or e-reader.
Don’t Leave Your Contacts in Overnight
Leaving your contacts in overnight comes with many negative effects. Infections and lack of oxygen to the eye can lead to vision loss and even total blindness. If you wear contacts, make sure to put your eye health first and take them out at night. Most optometrists recommend wearing contacts for a maximum of 10-12 hours every day.
Don’t Rub Your Eyes
Hand washing only does so much! Try to avoid rubbing your eyes or touching your eyes with unclean hands. It can spread germs or bacteria, and cause eye irritation and pain. If you do happen to touch your eyes with an irritant, flush your eye out with water. If the pain or irritation persists, seek medical attention.
We tend to take our vision for granted until it becomes a problem. June 27th is National Sunglasses Day. Put your eye health first. Protect your eyes. Follow the Do’s and Don’ts of proper eye care. Enjoy 20/20 vision as long as you possibly can, you probably won’t have it forever!