Most of us neglect our eye health. That is because when we suffer from occasional eye discomfort, we view these as normal irritations to be endured. Partly as a result of this neglect, one in six American adults aged 45+ suffer from some type of eye problem.
So, over 43 million Americans could be affected by age-related eye diseases like dry eye disease, cataract, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. But this doesn’t mean you have to suffer. With regular check-ups and full disclosure of any symptoms you have felt, you can enjoy healthy eyes well into retirement!
Here are 10 Tips for Improving Eye Health
1. A Healthy Diet
Foods rich in nutrients like vitamin C and E, zinc, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids strengthen your eyes against age-related eye problems like Dry Eye Disease. Plus, a family history of high blood pressure or diabetes increases risk of developing an eye disease, and diet can help manage those diseases. Some great foods that promote eye health include:
- Vegetables: Leafy green veggies like spinach and kale
- Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel
- Fruits: Citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruit and oranges
- Nonmeat protein sources: Eggs, nuts and beans
- Green tea: It is a great source of catechins. Like other antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, zeaxanthin and lutein, for instance) they help protect your eyes against age-related problems.
- Stay Hydrated: Your body relies heavily on water to function smoothly. This includes keeping your tears protecting the surface of your eye properly!
2: Quit Smoking
Research finds that smokers can develop debilitating eye conditions increases two or three times as much as non-smokers.
3: Use Sunglasses and Safety Glasses to Protect your Eyes
Proper sunglasses shield your eyes from sun damage due to ultraviolet light. So, defer the development of cataracts, macular degeneration and pinguecula by blocking 99% of these harmful rays. Safety glasses are highly recommended if your work or hobby exposes you to hazardous airborne materials. You should also wear protective glasses for contact sports.
4: Avoid Excessive Exposure to Computer Screens
People do not blink enough to maintain naturally good eye health. This is exacerbated by staring too long at a computer or phone screen. Excessive screen time causes:
- Dry, gummy eyes
- Blurry vision
- Long distance focus issues
Some protective measures include:
- Seeking regular medical exams if your work demands hours of computer work
- Using warm eye compresses regularly to keep your tear film healthy
- Organizing your workstation so that your head remains a good distance away from the screen
- Blinking more to keep your eyes properly coated with healthy tears
- Following the 20-20-20 rule where you rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds continuously
- Taking 15-minutes breaks every 2 hours and getting up from your chair
Generally, it just makes sense whenever you are concentrating to get your head up, look away from the task and blink your eyes for a few seconds to relieve the strain.
5: Consult with Your Eye Doctor Regularly
Your eyes are one of your most sophisticated organs. Spotting eye diseases like Dry Eye and glaucoma are hard without the right diagnostic tools. Only an eye care professional has the required knowledge, experience, and techniques. Obtain a comprehensive eye exam at least biannually.
6: Recognize and Report Eye Problems
Too many people fail to mention nagging symptoms during their eye exams. Be vigilant about your eyesight and keep looking for any changes in your vision. Write down what you are experiencing so that you remember to review them with your optometrist. Symptoms you should report include:
- Hazy vision
- Double vision
- Blurred vision and/or excessive tearing
- Problem seeing in low light conditions
- Red eyes for prolong time periods
- Constant eye pain and swelling
- Constant stinging, grittiness or gumminess
- Frequent flashes of light
If any of these symptoms continue, talk to your eye doctor immediately to get your condition diagnosed.
7: Fresh Air – Indoors and Out
While fresh air may bring seasonal allergens to bear, it also supplies oxygen to the corneas in your eyes. So, don your sunglasses and take a walk! And air purification systems can create much more comfortable indoor air quality as well by removing eye irritants. Dry air can also exacerbate symptoms, and indoor humidifiers help with that.
8: Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
Oddly enough, a huge majority of people develop the habit of rubbing their eyes to relieve stress, burning, blurring and itchiness. But this can be damaging to eye health, unless you wash your hands consistently before rubbing your eyes! Otherwise, your hands compound irritations by adding a host of germs into your eyes.
9: Handle Your Contacts Properly
As with eye rubbing, too many people adopt unsanitary habits when wearing eye contacts. Usually, they don’t follow the prescription guidelines! Never clean them with anything handy (like saliva) if you want to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
10: Get Some Sleep!
Your entire body benefits from getting enough sleep, and your eyes are no exception. Adequate sleep lets your eyes recover from the strain of daily living.
Eye Exams: The Sooner the Better to Ensure Better Eye Health
Get on top of your eye health! The sooner conditions are diagnosed, the greater the chance you can treat successfully.