How to Have Healthy Eyes

Portrait of a senior patient getting an eye exam at the optician

Do you remember when you had your last eye exam? If not, August is National Eye Exam Month so it’s the perfect time to schedule your next appointment. Eye health is a crucial, but often overlooked, part of overall health. There are lots of easy steps you can take to help keep your eyes healthy and maintain your vision as you age.

Get Regular Eye Exams
Just like you get regular check-ups with your primary care physician, you should also have regular appointments with your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Comprehensive dilated eye exams are recommended every one to two years for adults over the age of 60. Several common eye diseases including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy frequently don’t have any warning symptoms. But a dilated eye exam can help your doctor identify any early signs of these diseases and put together a treatment plan.

Maintain a Healthy Routine
When you make healthy choices, your entire body benefits from those choices – including your eyes. Diseases and conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure can increase the likelihood of developing eye problems. Maintaining healthy habits can reduce the risk of developing these diseases and, in turn, help to promote healthy vision.

Make sure that your diet includes a variety of fruit and vegetables. Dark, leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and spinach have lots of nutrients and antioxidants that are essential for healthy eyes. Studies have also suggested that eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of developing eye diseases. Cold water fish like salmon, halibut, tuna, and sardines are a good source of omega-3s.

Staying active is another crucial element of overall health. Moderate exercise for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower the risk of developing conditions that can lead to vision loss.

Quit Smoking
Smoking does terrible things to your body and your eyes are no exception. Smokers have an increased risk for eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration, both of which can lead to blindness. Smoking can also damage the optic nerve and negatively impact heart health, which can subsequently affect eye health.

Protect Your Eyes
Sunglasses are an essential accessory when you’re outdoors. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation can damage the cornea and lens. So, the best bet is to find a pair of sunglasses that block out 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation. Don’t forget to wear them even if it’s a cloudy day.

It’s important to use protective eyewear when you’re doing things like home improvement projects or playing sports. Goggles and safety glasses can help prevent eye injuries and are often found at eye care providers as well as at sporting goods and home improvement stores.

If you wear contacts, always wash your hands before you put them in and take them out. Follow all instructions to keep them disinfected and properly stored. Remember to replace them regularly to further reduce the risk of an infection.

Spending a lot of time staring at screens can cause eye fatigue and eye strain. Give your eyes a break by following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Knowing how to keep your eyes healthy will make it that much easier to create healthy routines that result in lifelong benefits. And, of course, don’t forget to schedule that eye appointment.