You work hard to stay healthy — eating right, exercising, getting regular checkups. You treat your body right so it will treat you right in return. While you are making efforts to support your overall health, are you giving your eyes the attention they deserve as well?
Eye health can sometimes take a back seat, especially if you do not need vision correction. However, vision impairment can happen to anyone, at any age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 million people ages 40 and older have some level of vision impairment. Taking preventative measures and looking out for your eye health can go a long way toward avoiding vision problems.
Here are a few things you can do now to take care of your eyes:
Wear eye protection
If you want to take care of your eyes, protecting them from physical injury is a good place to start. About 2,000 people suffer a work-related eye injury each day in the United States, with a third of these injuries requiring treatment at a hospital. Eye injuries can also happen when playing sports or working around the house. These injuries can damage the eye permanently and also put the eye in danger of infection. Always wear appropriate eye protection in situations that might put your eyes at risk, whether at work or play.
Don’t forget your sunglasses
While you’re getting into the habit of wearing eye protection, don’t forget to shield your eyes from the sun. The damage from the sun may not be as visible as physical trauma, but it can be just as serious. Over time, the sun can harm vision and contribute to serious eye diseases.
“While you are taking care to put on sunscreen, don’t forget to put on your sunglasses,” says Sarah Hilton, a registered nurse. “The ultraviolet rays that can cause skin cancer are also harmful to your eyes.”
Eat for your eyes
When you’re planning your meals, leave some room for foods that can keep your eyes in tip-top shape. Carrots, of course, have been shown to help support eye health, but there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are beneficial. Antioxidants like lutein and vitamins A, C and E can help prevent macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and other conditions. Dark-colored fruits and vegetables like spinach, peppers, sweet potatoes and others are good sources of these nutrients, as are nuts and seeds.
Give your eyes a break
These days, you might find yourself looking at a screen most of the day, whether you use a smartphone for getting the news, emails and entertainment, or you use a computer for work. After a particularly long day of screen-gazing, you might notice blurred vision, headaches, dry eyes and other symptoms of eye strain. Experts recommend following the 20-20-20 rule-i.e., looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. These little breaks can help avoid eye strain from screen use.
Whether you currently have vision impairment or not, protecting your eyes should be a high priority. Keep this advice in mind to help you care for your eyes, and visit the eye doctor regularly to spot any problems and get them treated.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.