Keeping eyes healthy and educating people on the importance of eye health and routine checkups is a passion of mine and one of the main driving forces that helped me become the person and doctor I am today. This is one of my favorite topics because eye health is a very overlooked topic that should actually be incorporated into your yearly physicals. I believe and I’m sure you do as well, consider your eyes to be a very important part of your life. Imagine being in a world where you could not see and appreciate the beautiful things this world has to offer. Unfortunately, many people have to live like this and maybe if you follow some simple rules you can possibly delay or prevent any vision impairment or loss, along with any other eye conditions and diseases. There are many things that you can do to keep your eyes healthy as well as keeping your eyes seeing their best for all your living years. I’m going to go through a rough list of rules for good vision and healthy eyes. These are things I’ve found throughout my 10+years of practice that if done consistently will lead to healthy vision and eyes. If you follow these simple rules you will be on the right track to keeping your eyes healthier, longer.
I’ll start off with the most important thing you can do, and I’ve literally written an entire blog on this one topic, a Yearly Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam is essential to overall eye health. I have mentioned this before in previous posts; a vision exam is not the same thing as a comprehensive eye exam. I encourage all my patients to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as part of their routine yearly exam. You may think your vision is good, but good vision doesn’t always mean good health. And having a dilated exam is the only way to determine the health of the eye. There are many health conditions that can be found in a simple eye exam that the patient was not aware of such as diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and tumors. Sometimes these conditions do not give you any warning signs and having a dilated eye exam will allow us to find and treat these conditions at an early stage.
Another important rule to follow is to know your family eye health history: Knowing and understanding your family eye health history will allow you and me to determine what your risks are for developing any eye conditions. Many of these eye diseases can be hereditary and it is important to know what your risks are, and what we need to do to help prevent or stall such conditions from arising.
I know, I know if I could only eat right then most of my problems would go away, but I’m writing a blog on keeping your eyes healthy and it could not be complete without a small section on eating healthy. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight is of course a rule that could help with an array of ailments let alone eye health. So of course, I’m going to make this one of my rules, and I’m going to make it eye related. I am sure you have heard the old saying, carrots are good for your eyes. And yes, they are but studies have found that there are many other foods specifically the leafy greens such as spinach and kale which are very important in providing nutrients to your eyes. Eating fish such as salmon and tuna contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids which are very important in maintaining our eyes healthy. Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma all which can affect the retina and lead to blindness. So yes, diet is very important to not only your overall health but also specifically to your eyes.
My next rule is the one that you wish you had done before getting smacked in the eye socket with a racquet ball. I’m talking about protective eye wear. Whether you are playing sports, work in a hazardous environment or simply working in your garden wearing protective eye wear can prevent an injury. Protective eye wear includes safety glasses, sports goggles, safety shields all made from a shatterproof lens which we call polycarbonate. Here at Lakes Family Eye Care we offer these options to our patients. Make it a habit to wear safety glasses in your workplace or while playing sports. Your eyes are an important and fragile part of your body, they should be protected as such.
This leads me right into my next rule. Wear sunglasses! Let’s be real sunglasses are not only a great fashion accessory, but more importantly they protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. There are many options for UV protection such as transition lenses, and polarized lenses. UV rays from the sun could have a negative effect on the eyes such as developing eye growths called pingueculas or pterygiums but can also lead to degenerations in the retina as well as cataracts. So it is very important, especially if you’re from down here in South Florida, wearing sunglasses when outdoors is a great way to prevent eye conditions from popping up.
Next rule in no particular order but should be number one is QUIT SMOKING. Bet you haven’t heard that before. Very simple smoking is harmful to your eyes but more importantly your overall health. Stop smoking or never start you will do yourself a huge favor. When it comes to eyes in particular smoking leads to early cataracts, macular degeneration, and optic nerve problems all which can lead to blindness. So, do yourself a favor and stop smoking it will save your life.
This next rule is something that no one really thinks about, and it is probably the reason for the majority of your eye symptoms. It’s the constant staring at anything with a screen. Yes, I know we live in an era where screen time is part of our lives. The irony alone of having to stare at this screen while I type about not looking at the screen has dawned on me. I get it its unavoidable but following this simple exercise can keep your eyes feeling better and keep the effects of Blue Light down to a minimum. This exercise is called the 20-20-20 Rule. So, this basically means after 20 minutes of consistent screen time look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will absolutely help reduce the eyestrain. Also, we recommend making your font larger, reducing brightness and wearing special coatings in your glasses such as Anti-Glare and Blue Light Filter. At Lakes Family Eye Care, we will educate you and give you the best options for your lenses and try to reduce the number of symptoms you may be having from the exposure to screens.
The last rule I think also goes over looked and gets abused until something bad finally happens is contact lens hygiene. If you wear contact lenses, please follow proper hygiene. It’s terrible to see the amount of calls we receive on a daily basis due to improper care of contacts lenses. I hate to break it to you sooner or later you will end up with an eye infection all of which is totally avoidable. These eye infections are causes by contact lens over wear, poor lens hygiene, and poor lens case hygiene. Always wash your hands, clean your lenses, change the solution in your case, wash and dispose of your case periodically and most importantly change your lenses at the recommended time frame. Do not sleep with your contacts even if they are FDA approved…bottom line its bad for you. If you’re really not good with your hygiene wear daily lenses its overall better for your eye health, just toss them in and toss them out. It really is only a matter of time before you get an infection.
So, to recap on the simple rules to healthy eyes you have yearly comprehensive eye exams, get it done, know your family history, eat right, wear eye protection, wear sunglasses, quit smoking, limit “screen time”, and if you wear contacts please practice good hygiene. Follow these simple rules and you should be feeling better about your eye health. Your eyes will be thanking you for it. Thank you for reading I hope that I’ve helped you understand the importance of eye health just a little bit more.