People see primary care doctors, the dentist and even mental health specialists on a regular basis. But are you taking proper care of your eyes, especially if you don’t already use corrective lenses? There are many things you can do to ensure healthy vision and to prevent eye-related diseases. Take time this month to focus on how to improve your vision.
Schedule an eye exam
Even if you don’t use corrective lenses, it’s important to first schedule an eye exam. Here are some quick rules of thumb for how often you should be receiving an eye exam:
- Children and teens: regular vision screenings and eye exams at health check-ups
- In your 20s and 30s: every 5-10 years
- From 40-54 years old: every 2-4 years
- After age 65: every 1-2 years
It’s important to check your eyes regularly to prevent eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, low vision, and even dry eyes. All of these conditions can cause blurry vision, discomfort, and even blindness. If you haven’t gotten a recent eye exam, schedule one this month to prevent a possible decline in your vision.
Protect your eyes
Whether you’re at work, home or outdoors, there are preventive measures you can take to protect your eyes. If your job requires safety eyewear, be sure to wear it at all times. Safety glasses are often required to stop small pieces of material from getting into your eyes that can cause irreversible damage. Other jobs may entail a lot of time spent on a computer or smartphone. The blue light emitted from digital devices can cause dry eyes, blurry vision, and headaches.
Eyeglasses with a blue light filtering option are great to prevent these symptoms if you spend a lot of time looking at digital screens. Finally, when outside (even if it’s cloudy) it’s important to protect your eyes with sunglasses that block 100% of ultraviolet rays. Sun damage is cumulative, so if you aren’t regularly wearing protective sunglasses outdoors, then it’s best to start now!
Eat foods that nurture your eyes
Work on incorporating more eye-healthy foods into your diet. Foods that are high in Vitamin A, lutein, zinc, and omega-3 are great for improving vision and preventing eye disease. Here are a few examples of foods to make a priority in your diet:
- Vitamin A rich foods: dairy products, carrots, broccoli, and squash
- Foods high in lutein: leafy greens, peas, kiwi, and grapes
- Foods with zinc: shellfish, legumes, eggs, and nuts
- Foods high in omega-3s: chia seeds, spinach, tofu, and fish
All of these foods can help prevent vision loss, improve vision overall, and reduce your chances of chronic eye disease.
Rest your eyes
Just like everything else in our bodies, the eyes need rest. Of course, when we sleep at night, they get plenty of rest, but you can take mindful breaks throughout the day to give them more.
It’s important to take frequent breaks, especially if you work at a computer or are looking at things closely all day (like a dentist or tattoo artist). One method to practice is simply covering your eyes with your palms and allowing your eyes to adjust to the darkness for about a minute. Another one is taking a break every 20 minutes to look at least 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.
Here are a few other great ideas for exercises to help refresh your eyes throughout the day.
Don’t forget about your eyes when considering your overall health. You can improve your vision, help prevent diseases, and engage your family in cooking eye-healthy recipes or heading to the eye doctor together. Our vision allows us to take in so much of the world around us, so start now and do what you can to improve your eye health and continue these habits in the future.
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