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5 Daily Changes to Help Your Eyes

Brushing and flossing are (hopefully) a normal part of your daily routine to keep your teeth and gums healthy.  But what are you doing to keep your eyes healthy and to prevent and delay vision loss?  Here are 5 things you can do each day to take care of your eyes like you do your teeth:

1. Look Away from Your Screens Every 20 Minutes

In this digital age, screens are everywhere.  Whether you’re sitting in front of a computer screen all day for your job, watching TV when you get home, or spending hours scrolling through social media on your phone, your screens could be causing eye strain. Driving long distances, reading in dim light, and long-focused tasks are other possible causes. Eye strain can cause headaches, trouble focusing, blurring vision, dry eyes, and other uncomfortable vision problems.
The best way to reduce or prevent eye strain is to limit your screen time, however, that’s not always possible.  If you have to (or want to) look at your screens for extended periods of times, try employing the 20-20-20 rule.  Every 20 minutes, take a break from the screen, and look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.  It’s more beneficial if you look away for longer than 20 seconds, but shifting your focus to a more distant object can help with your visual acuity as well as help your eye muscles relax.

2. Eat More Leafy Greens and Fish

You’ve most certainly heard how important a balanced diet is for your overall health. Unsurprisingly, what you eat can affect your eyes as well. The old adage that carrots will improve your eyesight isn’t entirely false. The vitamin A our bodies get from carrots can help protect your eye health as vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness. Carrots are not going to improve your vision if you get enough vitamin A in your diet as is, but foods with vitamin A can be useful for maintaining your vision.
While most people have heard of the visual benefits of carrots, what’s less well known are the benefits of fruit and green leafy vegetables. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get enough of them. Spinach, kale, collard greens, and other such veggies contain carotenoids, zinc, vitamins C and E, and the antioxidant lutein. Lutein increases pigment density in the macula, helping lower your risk for macular degeneration. Colfwater fish — like salmon, tuna, halibut — are also beneficial for eye health. Fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which may protect your eyes against age-related diseases.

3. Get Active

Just like you’ve been told to eat well in order to stay healthy, you’ve probably als been told to exercise. But staying active can actually help lower your risk for health conditions that can cause vision problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.  In fact, obesity can be considered a risk factor for cataracts and there appears to be a link between morbid obesity and risk for glaucoma.  Making sure you at least walk for 30 minutes a day is a good way to protect your eye health.
If you are diabetic, it is vital to keep your blood glucose levels under control since diabetic retinopathy can be a complication for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can cause eye diseases like retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma. That’s why it’s so important to monitor your glucose levels and continue staying active.

4. Don’t Smoke

Smoking doesn’t just harm your lungs — it can harm your eyes too.  Smoking can actually harm your optic nerve and lead to other vision problems.  According to the CDC, smokers are twice as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than people who do not smoke, and they are 2-3 times more likely to develop cataracts.  If you want to protect your eye health and avoid going blind, quitting smoking is a step in the right direction.

5. Wear Sunglasses and Eye Protection

You should protect your eyes from the sun, even when it’s cloudy outside!  Sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation are the best option.  If you play sports, do construction work, or are involved in other activities where your eyes could potentially be injured, you should definitely wear safety glasses and goggles.
In addition to the 5 daily changes listed above, you can help maintain your eye health and prevent eye problems by getting regular eye exams.  Vision problems tend to creep up over time and it’s best if you catch them early through dilated eye exams in order to treat them most effectively.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had your eyes checked out, schedule an appointment with our experienced optometrist, Dr. Jesse Camen.

Dr. Jesse Camen

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