Maintaining Good Eye Health Don't take your eye health for granted. Protect your eyesight with these six tips for eye-healthy nutrition, lifestyle, and preventive care. 1. Get the Best Nutrients for Good Vision Protecting your eyes starts with the food on your plate. Studies have shown that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E may help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Regularly eating these foods can help lead to good eye health: Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish Eggs, nuts, beans and other non-meat protein sources Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices Eating a well-balanced diet also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults. As many as 45% of people with diabetes develop diabetic retinopathy, which damages vision. Having diabetes also increases your risk for glaucoma and cataracts. 2. Kick the Habit for Better Eyesight If you smoke, here's another good reason to quit tobacco. Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration. If you've tried to quit smoking before and relapsed, give it another shot. Studies show that the more times you try to quit smoking, the more likely you are to succeed. 3. Wear Sunglasses for Good Vision There are two good reasons to wear sunglasses whenever you spend time outside in the sun: 1. Sunglasses look cool. 2. The right kind of sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Too much UV exposure increases your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. When choosing sunglasses, be safe as well as stylish. Choose sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound lenses help protect your eyes from the side. Polarized lenses work well to help reduce glare when driving. Contact lens wearers have the option of using contact lenses that offer UV protection. There are two types available. One works for intense sun exposure, such as in the mountains or on the beach. UV protecting contacts are a reasonable option, but may not be a substitute for large wrap-around sunglasses. It is best to protect the eyelids and eye surface from UV in addition to the area covered by the contact lenses. 4. Use Safety Eyewear at Home, at Work, and While Playing Sports If you work with hazardous or airborne materials at work or home, wearing safety glasses or protective goggles can protect your eyes from injury, vision loss, and blindness. Certain sports such as ice hockey, racquetball, and lacrosse also carry the risk for eye injury. Wearing eye protection such as helmets with protective face masks or sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses can shield your eyes from a flying puck or swinging lacrosse stick. 5. Look Away From the Computer for Good Eye Health Staring at a computer can strain your vision. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a condition that occurs from frequent computer use. It can cause: Eyestrain Blurry vision Difficulty focusing at a distance Dry eyes Headaches Neck, back, and shoulder pain Protect your eye health by taking the following steps: Make sure your glasses or contact lens prescription is up to date and adequate for computer use. Position your computer so that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor. This allows you to look slightly down at the screen. Try to avoid glare on your computer from windows and lights. Use an anti-glare screen if needed. Choose a comfortable, supportive chair. Position it so that your feet are flat on the floor. Remember to blink often, which can help prevent dry eyes. Rest your eyes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Every two hours, get up and take a 15-minute break. 6. Visit Your Eye Doctor Regularly Everyone, even young children, should have their eyes examined regularly. This is particularly important for good eye health as well as overall health. Regular, comprehensive eye exams can help you protect your sight and make sure that you are seeing your best. As you age, your risk increases for some eye diseases, such as glaucoma, that have no symptoms. So it's possible to have this condition and not know it. Major medical advances for age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts can help people with these conditions maintain their vision. By having regular eye exams, you can catch any eye problems early on when they are easier to treat. Depending on your eye health needs, you can see either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye care. They can provide general vision care, treat eye diseases, and perform eye surgery. Optometrists have had four years of training after college. They provide eye care and treat some but not all eye diseases, but they do not perform eye surgery. A complete eye exam to protect your eyes may include the following: Your personal and family medical history Near and far vision tests to see if you have nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism (curvature of the cornea that causes blurred vision), or presbyopia (age-related vision changes) Tests to see how well your eyes work together Eye pressure and optic nerve tests to determine if you have glaucoma External and microscopic examination of your eyes before and after dilation You may have other tests as needed. For example, if you wear contact lenses, you may need additional procedures.
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