Updated: Jul 21, 2018
7 Tips to Improve Your Vision: Set Your Sights on Healthy Vision, Part Two
We work hard to preserve our health and strength by exercising, losing weight or developing better habits, but often fail to implement behavioral changes to maintain one of the most important senses of the body – our eyesight. Failing to do so can lead to disorders of the eye, which eventually leads to blindness. Astonishingly, nearly 80 percent of blindness is avoidable or even curable. If you’ve already taken steps to set your sights on healthy vision by implementing key nutrients in your diet to keep your vision sharp, you have only scratched the surface. Check out these tips below to help you stay on the path towards improving and sustaining your healthy vision.
Know your family history.
Our eye color isn’t the only trait passed down from your family. Several eye diseases are inherited through our genes as well. Knowledge of your family history concerning eye disorders can prompt your doctor to take preventative measures to lower your risk of developing those disorders in the future.
According to the Academy of Ophthalmology, individuals with a family history of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have a 50 percent chance of developing the disease. If glaucoma runs in your family, it increases your risk of glaucoma four to nine times. Talk to your family members to learn of any history of eye disease and consult with your primary care physician or ophthalmologist for an evaluation. An early diagnosis can potentially help prevent or effectively treat inherited eye diseases, and ultimately save your vision.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity prevention may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider keeping your eyes healthy, but your weight can possibly impact your vision. Overweight and obese individuals are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, which can lead to vision loss. In 2015, The American Diabetes Association reported 9.4 percent of the population in the U.S. to have diabetes. But what is alarming is the fact that 24 percent of those individuals are not diagnosed. Diabetes is also the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. Although being overweight or obese is a risk factor, you can attempt to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by improving your health. Staying active and following a healthy and balanced diet could help you manage your weight and help prevent diabetes.
Most of us are aware of the harmful effects of smoking including increased risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke, but did you know smoking could negatively influence your vision? Smoking also increases your risk of developing cataracts (clouding of the lens), uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye), dry eye syndrome and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In fact, smokers are twice as likely to develop AMD, and two to three times as likely to develop cataracts as non-smokers. Fortunately, upon kicking the habit, your risk for developing eye diseases decreases to that of a non-smoker.
For more tips and/or resources on smoking cessation, visit the American Lung Association.
Sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory – they are also functional in protecting our eyes from the sun. Like skin, the eyes are vulnerable to damage by the sun’s rays. Exposure to these harmful ultraviolet rays can damage various parts of the eye and increase our risk for developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. When purchasing sunglasses, choose quality shades that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Specialized protective eye wear is required for viewing a solar eclipse, tanning beds use or welding machines where typical sunglasses are not adequate for complete protection during those activities.
Protective eye wear for work and sports.
According to Prevent Blindness America, 2,000 individuals succumb to eye injuries at work daily, while more than 25,000 individuals seek treatment for sports-related injuries each year. What’s more surprising is 90 percent of work- and sports- related eye injuries are easily preventable with the correct protection. Working in hazardous conditions where flying objects, chemicals and dust are present should require the use of safety glasses/goggles or face shields. Specialized helmets, face shields and goggles for high risk sports like field and ice hockey, racquetball, and lacrosse are highly recommended to ensure the highest levels of protection.
Take a break from screens.
Let’s admit it, most of us spend a great deal of time staring at screens. As technology becomes essential to our everyday lives, the amount of time we spend immersed in our digital devices rises. Office computers, smartphones, televisions, tablets and e-readers – these devices can wreak havoc on our eye health. Eyestrain, for instance, can occur when your eyes become fatigued from staring at digital devices for more than two hours at a time.
More tips to reduce eyestrain include:
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Rest your eyes every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at a time, looking at an object 20 feet away.
Blink frequently while using digital devices.
Minimize glare on screens.
Use less intense ambient lighting.
Increase brightness and resolution on computer monitors
And, last but certainly not least…
Visit an optometrist.
This may be an obvious tip, but often times we don’t bother to visit an eye specialist until we experience obvious signs of change or discomfort. As you age, it is likely you’ll experience changes in your vision. You may notice you have trouble reading up close or driving at night. After 40 years of age, it is quite natural for your vision to decline. But, even if your vision seems healthy, it is important to visit an optometrist for an annual eye screening. Diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy often show no symptoms until the disease progresses over time. Early detection can be key for preventing and treating eye diseases in their earlier stages.
Which of these healthy habits do you currently incorporate in your lifestyle? 👀