These easy steps have a huge payoff: clear vision. Sight is critical to our independence, our work and our safety. Add vision protection to your New Year’s resolutions to get some tasks on the list you can accomplish. None of these are outrageous requirements on your time and attention and most benefit overall health in addition to eye health. Go over this list to see which steps you can take today.
Wear Protective Goggles When Participating in High Risk Activities
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 100,000 eye injuries take place in the United States each year. Of these, 90% could have been prevented had the individual been wearing protective goggles. Sports with the highest incidences of eye injuries are baseball, basketball, ice hockey and racquetball. When it comes to work, in 2013, 40 percent of the 25,000 eye injuries that year occurred in manufacturing, mining and construction. The most common causes of eye injuries are tools, particles, chemicals and flying bits of metal or glass. Always be vigilant about your eyes, particularly if you engage in these activities.
Make an Appointment with an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist
Too many consider the yearly eye exam optional. These facts reveal why this exam is not only practical and helpful, but critical.
- Glaucoma can rob you of much of your sight slowly and before you realize it. While the disease is treatable, the earlier the disease is recognized, the better the outcome. Anyone 40 and older, or with a family history of glaucoma, needs regular glaucoma screenings.
- Contacts or glasses over one year old may not be appropriate for the current vision levels. Using old glasses stresses the eyes, causing strain and even long-term degeneration.
- Certain eye conditions can be early warning signs for systemic diseases like diabetes and neurological conditions.
- Catching eye diseases early can make the difference between blindness and sight or surgery and driving right on by that eye hospital.
Explore Your Family’s Eye Health Risk Factors
Do the terms glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy sound familiar? Ask older members of your family whether they know of any relatives that suffered from these ailments. Some eye diseases also correspond to ethnicity, gender and lifestyle. Ophthalmology has made great strides in the past two decades, but the earlier any vision issue is addressed, the better.
Support Your Eyes with Nutritious Foods
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has studied food and eye health and then studied the studies themselves to come to their conclusions. Their findings reveal:
Kale lowers your risk for age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
This green is loaded with lutein and zeanthin and several studies have demonstrated that women with a diet rich in these nutrients were 23 percent likely to develop cataracts. If you just can’t tolerate Kale, try the closest runners up: spinach, romaine lettuce and collard greens, broccoli and peas.
Oranges help eyes function properly.
The vitamin C in oranges helps keep eyes disease free. Studies have shown they both prevent or at least delay the onset of cataracts and macular degeneration. Peaches, red peppers, tomatoes and strawberries also provide the anti-oxidant boost.
Legumes like beans and peas protect eyes from light.
Full of the mineral Zinc, peanuts, kidney beans, lima beans and peas all counter the radiation from light rays.
Carrots help with night vision.
While this root gets all the credit for eye health, it really only boosts night vision because of its high density of beta-carotene. Other orange fruits and veggies like sweet potatoes and cantaloupe help as well.
Salmon & tuna reduce risk of macular degeneration.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acid, salmon and tuna does a stand up job of preventing and delaying age-related macular degeneration.
Take Eye Protection from Sun Seriously
Have you seen the paint on a car hood bubbling up and peeling off? How about a once-bright patio pillow drained of its colors?
That’s sun damage, and it’s powerful. Radiation from the sun and from ubiquitous computer screens has been linked to macular degeneration, cancerous and benign eye growths and cataracts. Using sunglasses with 100% UV protection helps with the light outdoors. Computer glare can be minimized with clear lenses made for office work.
Rest Your Eyes from Screen Time
In this connected era, you won’t be surprised to learn that “Computer Vision Syndrome” is listed in the medical textbooks with it’s own capital letters as a proper noun. In other words, it’s a thing.
Computer Vision Syndrome (a.k.a. Digital Eyestrain) brings tens of thousands of people to the doctor every year. Complaining of headaches, blurred vision, dry and tired eyes, sufferers help the situation with new glasses, glare screens over computer monitors and changing seating positions. The American Optometric Association urges people to always rest their eyes every two hours of continuous computer use for a full 15 minutes. More, every 20 minutes office workers should look up into the distance for 20 seconds to give eyes a chance to focus farther away.
Yet another reason to quit this gravely health-debilitating habit. Smoking causes optic nerve damage, inflammation to the eye’s middle layer, and macular degeneration. People who smoke double their chance of forming cataracts and triple their chances of developing age-related macular degeneration. It’s never too late to quit smoking.
Switch Out Coffee for Green Tea
Coffee is dehydrating where tea hydrates your body, including eye tissues. Eyes must stay hydrated for comfort. Green tea also contains catechins; antioxidants that slow age-related macular degeneration.
Do Not Clean Contacts with Bacteria-laden Saliva
A study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that 85 percent of respondents claimed they were taking proper care of their contacts—using solution rather than saliva for cleaning—when in truth only two percent were. Even worse, contact wearers tend to top off the contact solution in contact cases rather than changing it every time. Bacteria from the contact worn the day before still lives in the contact solution and creates “biofilm,” also known as slime. Fresh solution in a clean case reduces bacteria’s reproductive potential.
This new year, make a commitment to eye health and try to complete a few of these resolutions. Your vision will be thanking you down the road.
What resolutions have you set for 2016? How many of them have to do with your health? Let us know in the comments.