Imagine a world where everything is blurry, or worse, where you can’t see at all. Maintaining your eye health is just as important to your quality of life and maintaining your overall health. Healthy Vision Month (May) may be wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect your eyes and vision for the other 11 months of the year.
Following these simple best practices all year long will help your eyes stay healthy.
Get Regular Eye Exams
People who wear contacts or glasses are used to getting yearly eye exams, and it’s important that they maintain this routine to monitor their prescription and practice overall eye health. Those without vision problems shouldn’t skip the eye doctor though.
A comprehensive eye exam checks the overall health of your eyes and can even detect early warning signs of other diseases simply by looking at the health of the inside of your eyes. Some eye-specific diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, have very few symptoms or early warning signs — sometimes not even effecting your vision until the disease is fairly advanced. In these cases, regular eye exams are critical to early detection and effective treatment. For these reasons, even people with perfect 20/20 eyesight should get an eye exam every one to three years.
If you have trouble remember to schedule a yearly eye exam, make it a tradition every May for Healthy Vision Month!
We typically reach for our sunglasses when the sun is brightly shining, but did you know that you should also wear sunglasses when it’s overcast or cloudy out? In overcast and cloudy conditions harmful UV rays still reach the Earth’s surface. Just as UV is damaging to unprotected skin, these rays can also hurt your eyes.
Cataracts, an eye disease that causes significantly blurred vision, is often associated with old age. However, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI), 20% of cataract cases are caused by extended, unprotected UV exposure.
When shopping for a new pair of shades, opt for sunglasses that have 100% UVA and UVB protection. If you wear glasses on a daily basis, invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses or opt for transition lenses that get darker when you’re in the sun. This will ensure you can still see while also protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays.
Practice Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating habits have a multitude of benefits: it helps your immune system, helps you maintain a healthy weight, keeps you energized and much more. Incorporating the right foods into your diet can also help keep your eyes healthy.
Regularly eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a good way to support eye health. In addition to carrots (famous for their “good vision” benefits), load up on dark leafy greens, which are high in antioxidants that can help fight common eye disease.
Vitamins A, C and E are great for your eyes. These common vitamins can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers, citrus fruit, berries, and in some seeds (like sunflower seeds). Make sure you’re also getting a healthy amount of zinc in your diet. Zinc helps some vitamins absorb into the body better and has its own eye health supporting properties.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for vision and eye health. Healthy omega-3s are commonly found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna, as well as fatty nuts like almonds and walnuts. Almonds have the added benefit of also containing Vitamin E, which can slow the development of macular degeneration.
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health. People know that it can affect your heart, lungs, mouth and throat, but smoking can also lead to debilitating eye disease. Smoking can increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, uveitis and optic nerve damage. These serious eye diseases can drastically effect your vision and even lead to blindness.
Here’s how much smoking increases your chances of developing one of these blindness-causing eye diseases:
- Cataracts: Smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts
- Macular Degeneration: Your chances of developing macular degeneration increases 3 to 5.5 times if you’re a smoker
- Uveitis: The chances of developing uveitis is 2.2 times greater for smokers
Smoking has also been linked to developing diabetes, which could lead the diabetic retinopathy, another serious eye disease.
Practicing Good Eye Health
Living an overall healthy lifestyle can help keep your eyes healthy and practicing these simple year-around tips go even further toward protecting your eyes and vision.
If you have any questions about general eye health, vision or eye disease, talk to your ICON Eyecare doctor today.
About ICON Eyecare
ICON Eyecare is a leading surgical and medical eye care provider based out of Denver, CO. Since 1999, ICON has been building a Center of Ophthalmology Excellence empowered by an expert team of board certified physician specialists, the most advanced laser technology and a culture of quality and extraordinary patient care. In coordination with referring optometrists and physicians, ICON Eyecare specializes in treating patients with cataracts, advanced forms of glaucoma and other age and disease related conditions, while providing innovative options for patients seeking LASIK and cosmetic eye procedures. With 14 patient care centers located in Colorado and Texas, ICON Eyecare is expanding within the broader western U.S. region. For more information, please call (720) 524-1001, or visit iconeyecare.com.