We all know to avoid cavities we should brush and floss regularly and avoid sugary treats, but when it comes to taking care of our eyes sometimes it isn’t as clear how to prevent and protect eyes from damage. How to do that? Let’s discuss the common factors affecting eye health and what to do about it with our tips for good eye health.
Tips for Maintaining Eye Health
Our top tips for maintaining good eye health are: Prevention and Protection, and Eye Exams. Many factors are involved in these three key elements. We discuss them below.
Prevention and Protection
- Blue Light/Screen Time
Stay away from the light! Exposure to the blue light from computers strains your eyes and can negatively impact eye health and sleep. Screen time can weaken eye muscles that are focusing in one direction for long periods of time. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, if you’re farsighted or nearsighted, or suffer from astigmatism your eyes could be exerting extra focusing effort, being forced to work harder to maintain a clear image on the screen. Another concern is that our TV screens are getting larger but we’re not necessarily taking that into consideration when sitting down to watch our favourite movie. Remember when you were little and your mom told you to sit further back from the TV? She wasn’t wrong.
What to Do
- Wear blue light protective eyewear while on screens to filter out blue light
- Change your computer settings to filter blue light
- Take a 20 second break from your computer screen every 20 minutes and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.
- Make an eye appointment if you suspect you have an underlying condition such as astigmatism that could be causing extra eye strain
- Sit at a distance equivalent to at least five times the width of your TV screen
UV rays contribute to eye aging, macular degeneration, and cataracts. Sun damage can prematurely age eyes.
What to do
- Wear UV protective eyewear
- Wear a wide brimmed hat that shades the eyes from UV rays
- Consider eye health vitamins such as Lutein and Zeaxanthin known to increase protection from UV rays and blue light. Zeaxanthin in particular is found in high concentration within the A healthy Macula would have a darker pigmentation which in turn helps to keep harmful blue light from reaching the Retina. It serves as a natural sunblock.
What you eat, how active you are and whether or not you smoke will impact your eye health. According to the Canadian National Association for the Blind, a diet high in fats and low in nutrients may increase the risk of developing AMD (Macular Degeneration) and excess weight, a sedentary lifestyle and high blood pressure increase risk of AMD and diabetic retinopathy. Smoking is another cause for concern- people who smoke are three to four times more likely to develop AMD and the CNIB states it is the number one cause of significant sight loss for people over the age of fifty.
What to do
- Include eye healthy foods in your diet- Foods containing vitamin C (papayas, red bell peppers, kiwi, strawberries, and oranges) or antioxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, kale, and broccoli) and Omega 3’s (oily fish, flaxseed) can help reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The worst foods for eye health are those high in sugar and fat.
- Get Moving!- Increase your activity level as much as you’re able. Even walking 15 minutes twice a day will decrease your risks. Talk to your doctor about the exercise program that is right for you.
- Butt out- Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of all disease including sight loss. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation aids and see if you can butt out for good.
Eye injuries that can occur from impact from a ball, puck, or stick in sports or from a foreign object in the eye can occur at work and play. These types of injuries contribute to vision loss and can cause blindness
What to do
- Wear protective eye wear– 90 percent of eye injuries occur when the participant isn’t wearing protective eyewear.
- Get treatment immediately– If a sharp object becomes lodged in the eye don’t rub it. Call 911 or seek emergency eye care immediately. For eye care emergencies, be sure to ask your optometrist if emergency appointments are available – it’s often faster than going to the ER.
- Eye Exams and Care
Failure to get routine eye exams can play a significant role in eye health. There is no better way to protect your vision than an eye exam, as many eye diseases don’t have easily detectable symptoms.
What to do
- Have routine eye exams-The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends children have their first eye exam between ages six and nine months, and annually after that. Adults should have eye exams every two years, or at the direction of their optometrist. Schedule your exam
- Communicate any changes to your Toronto optometrist– If you have eye irritation from allergies, inflammation, infection or injury, don’t assume it will go away on its own. Unusual visual symptoms can require treatment to resolve, or, in some cases, indicate a more serious vision problem.
These are just some of our tips for maintaining good eye health. Protect your eyes, prevent injury and damage and get routine eye exams and you are well on your way to a lifetime of good vision.