Safe guarding your vision is top priority. Here are 10 tips for eye health:
- Get an annual eye exam. The check-up will include an examination for glaucoma and nerve damage. Your eye doctor will also check your retinas and blood flow in your eyes.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. Sunlight can play a role in the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Always protect your eyes at work and play. During these summer months, check which way the spray nozzle is pointed before spraying. When cleaning the oven or using strong chemicals such as bleach, wear eye protection so it does not splash in your eyes. Wear safety goggles if working with wood so the saw dust does not get into your eyes. Be cautious when opening a bag of popcorn or a bag of steamed vegetables cooked in a microwave oven as the steam can come up into your face and possibly burn your eyes.
- Contact wearers need to be cautious when their eyes become irritated while wearing lenses because this could lead to a corneal ulcer. Keep your lenses clean, but do not use expired contact solution. Do not sleep with contact lenses in your eyes.
- Prevent dry-eye syndrome. Heat and air conditioning can dry eyes out so use lubricating eye drops or artificial tear solutions if you have dry eyes.
- Good eating habits. Foods high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals may help to prevent or slow down the progression of macular degeneration. Vitamin A and beta carotene containing foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, peaches, and mangoes reduce the risk of glaucoma and macular degeneration. Omega 3 fatty acid from fish, nuts and vegetable oils lowers the risk and slows the progression of macular degeneration. Foods rich in vitamin C such as green peppers, tomatoes, and oranges protect eyes from becoming damaged from ultraviolet light.
- Stop smoking. Did you know smokers are 2.9 times more likely to develop cataracts, macular degeneration, and optic nerve damage?
- Avoid eye strain. You tend not to blink as frequently when working on the computer or watching television or doing work that requires focus. Take a break and do something that does not involve prolonged staring. When watching TV, sit a good distance from the screen and do not watch it in the dark.
- As with other health issues, family history may play a role in the disease(s) of the eye you may inherit. If there is a family history of diabetes or eye diseases, keep follow-up visits with your ophthalmologist.
- Finally, don’t ever rub your eyes. Rubbing your eyes is what causes eye infections and corneal abrasions.
May is Healthy Vision Month (HVM), a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute (NEI).
Courtesy of Kaytie Olshefski, RNC, BS, nursing coordinator of Adult Senior Communities in Monroe Township, on behalf of Saint Peter’s University Hospital. To find an ophthalmologist affiliated with Saint Peter’s, visit www.saintpetershcs.com/findaphysician.