Eye Health Tips
By Catherine Borgeson, O.D.
Your eyes are not just an organ that allows you to see the world, but also the window to the health of your whole body. It is important to keep your eyes healthy, and here are a few tips how:
Have a Comprehensive Eye Exam Every Year
- The ideal “20/20” vision is not all there is to having healthy eyes. Despite “seeing well,” many people suffer from headaches due to common vision problems that can be easily fixed with glasses or contacts.
- About one-fifth of all children have vision problems that can lead to falling behind in school and struggling with activities like sports or reading. Children aren’t always aware they don’t see well. If they’ve always seen “fuzzy,” how would they know any different?
- Many common eye diseases aren’t painful and don’t affect your vision until the late stages of the disease. Diabetes, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are the leading causes of blindness in the United States. There are various treatments widely available; however, these diseases can only be detected with a dilated eye exam.
Follow the “20-20-20” Rule When Using Computers and Phones
The growing use of computers and tablets is causing an increase in eye strain and dry eye. To help, follow these instructions while using a computer, tablet, or phone:
- Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break to look 20 feet away (or look anywhere far away/across the room)
- Taking regular breaks while using an electronic screen allows your eyes to unfocus and relax by looking in the distance. Additionally, it reminds us of the need to blink (we are supposed to blink every 10 seconds; we blink only every 40 seconds while on a computer).
Proper Contact Lens Care
- Contact lenses are a popular alternative to glasses for correcting your vision; however, they can cause severe damage and vision loss if used incorrectly.
- First, make sure you see an actual eye doctor to fit your contact lenses. Your eye doctor will measure the curves of your eyes and your lens prescription to ensure the contact lenses fit your eyes correctly and that you have good vision with them. An improperly fit contact lens can choke off oxygen to your eye causing blood vessel growth over your eye. Do not buy the “costume” or “cosmetic” contact lenses from online or at the mall, instead ask your eye doctor to safely fit you with contact lenses that go with the look you want.
- Once you have a well-fitting pair of contact lenses, make sure to clean them regularly. Follow your doctor’s directions on what to clean your lenses with and how often. Even the “extended wear” contact lenses need to be cleaned!
Wear Protective Eyewear
- While going to the beach is fun, make sure to wear sunglasses and sunscreen. Sunglasses with UV protection help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on your eyes from too much sunlight (for example pingueculas, pterygiums, and eyelid cancers). Up to 5% of skin cancers occur on the eyelids where you can’t apply sunscreen.
- Safety glasses are a good idea when doing activities such as yard work, sports, and building things in your garage. While gardening, leaves and dirt can fly dangerously close to your eyes, which can result in painful corneal abrasions and even eye infections. Sports usually involve projectiles like balls and rackets that can impact your eye and cause a retinal detachment (a sight threatening event) or concussion injury to the macula resulting in vision loss.
- Some jobs require safety glasses and most companies will pay for prescription ones if you need them. At Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, we work with several companies to provide safety lenses to their employees.
Keep Your Body Healthy
- Carrots are good for your eyes, but leafy green vegetables are even better! Multiple studies have shown that a healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, flaxseed, and walnuts) help maintain your overall health and have multiple benefits for your eyes. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and help your eyes produce better oil for your tears. This helps improve the symptoms of dry eyes.
- Either quit smoking or never start. Smoking increases your risk of stroke which can blind you if it affects certain parts of your brain. Smoking also accelerates the growth of cataracts.
- Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, manage sugar levels, helps reduce blood pressure, and has many other benefits. Diabetes and high blood pressure are becoming more prevalent in the United States, and both can cause vision loss or blindness if neglected.