The health of your eyes reflects and is affected by your overall health. With your eyes, preventing diseases, disorders, and injuries is the highest priority. Take care of your eyes to protect your vision for life.
High blood sugar and high blood pressure both put extra strain on the blood vessels of the eyes, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of diabetes, which is associated with serious eye disorders.
In addition to general health and wellness, there are some specific lifestyle choices that research has shown will affect your eye health.
You might be surprised to learn that what you eat has an effect on your vision health. Your diet can affect your chances of developing cataracts and glaucoma as well as affecting general eye health.
One of the most common eye problems is macular degeneration, a loss of vision as we age. The National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that what we eat has an impressive effect on how early signs of macular degeneration show up.
This study, along with multiple other studies including those of the Harvard Medical School, Tufts University, and the Erasmus Medical Center, have found that these foods are the most important ones for eye health:
- Leafy greens such as kale and spinach
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits and orange vegetables
Whatever your age, get in the habit of eating these foods regularly for your vision health!
Smokers are more likely to face age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage. All these conditions can affect your vision and even lead to blindness.
If you smoke, quit to preserve your vision. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Recent research at Emory University and the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center suggests that exercise can reduce the likelihood of developing macular degeneration. Regular exercise can improve circulation, keep blood pressure low, and reduce the risk of diabetes, too, so an exercise routine should be part of your vision-healthy lifestyle.
Prevent Blindness America reports that upwards of 900,000 Americans suffer eye injuries each year. Most of these injuries could be prevented with safety glasses.
Wear safety glasses whenever you’re working with power tools, harsh chemicals, or biotoxins. If this kind of work is part of your regular job, you’ll usually be provided with safety goggles at work. However, you might prefer prescription safety glasses. Talk with your eye doctor about the options.
Protective eyewear is also a good idea for contact sports, hunting, and mowing lawns. While most eye injuries take place on the job, about 125,000 Americans have eye injuries at home each year, and about 40,000 children receive eye injuries in household accidents or while playing sports.
Ultraviolet light can also increase your chances of macular degeneration and cataracts. Protect your eyes from sun damage by wearing sunglasses whenever you’re in the sun long enough to tan or burn. Since sunlight reflected off of water or snow can be especially damaging, use sunglasses when you’re skiing or sailing, too.
The Eye Center has a great selection of functional and fashionable sunglasses.
The 20-20-20 Rule
If you work with a computer – or play video games for long periods of time – you should follow the 20-20-20 rule.
Look away from the screen every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away, and take a take a break for 20 seconds.
Many people blink less when looking at a computer screen, and can end up with eyestrain and dry eyes. Set an alarm to remind you to take a vision break every 20 minutes. It adds up to less than 10 minutes throughout your workday, and can safeguard your vision health.