Eyesight has been called our most important sense.
Throughout the day, our eyes are continually absorbing light and transforming it into electrical signals that the brain uses to create the images we see. Those images enable us to navigate the world around us and perform countless everyday tasks, from reading a book to driving a car.
Perhaps because we rely so heavily on our ability to see, or because it demands more brain space than all of our other senses combined, there has been more research devoted to vision than any other sense. And in one study involving more than 250 participants, 88 percent of those surveyed ranked sight as their most valuable sense.
While age-related changes in eyesight are normal, there are still important things we can do each day to protect and preserve healthy vision. Make your vision last a lifetime by making the following five tips regular habits.
1. Visit your eye doctor at least once a year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 93 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months. While regular eye exams are important to help people see better as their eyesight changes, they are also a critical first step toward detecting serious eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Click here to read more about the importance of regular eye exams.
2. Know your family's eye health history.
People with a family history of glaucoma—currently one of the leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States—have a significantly higher risk of developing the disease. For this reason, knowing your family's eye health history is imperative for safeguarding healthy vision. Just as you would with heart disease or diabetes, make sure you share your health information and encourage family members to get regular screenings.
3. Eat well to protect your eyesight.
Plenty of foods have been shown to support healthy vision because they are chock full of vitamins and minerals that are good for your eyes. Some examples include carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados, almonds, leafy green veggies, beans, and fatty fish. However, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight also benefits your eyes by reducing the risk of diabetic retinopathy—a debilitating eye condition associated with diabetes that affects more than 4 million Americans aged 40 and older.
4. Wear protective eyewear.
More than 2 million eye injuries occur every year in the United States, the majority of which could be prevented simply by wearing protective eyewear. In addition to wearing safety goggles at work, at home, or on the playing field, it is also important to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Wear sunglasses to block UV-A and UV-B rays and protect your eyes whenever you are outside, even while driving.
5. Always clean your hands before touching your eyes.
This is even more important today, as we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because germs are easily transferred by unwashed hands, always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol) to ensure your hands are clean before and after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but you never want to look back and wish you had taken better care of your eyes. Practice these five simple tips to maintain optimal vision, and be sure to pass them on to your friends and family.