As the sense that sighted people rely on during nearly every waking moment, we tend to take our ability to see for granted. The assumption that our vision is a given usually persists until problems with eye health begin. Thankfully, there are several steps anyone can take to protect his or her eyesight.
Prevent Blindness America, a non-profit organization dedicated to vision issues, estimates that 50,000 people lose their sight needlessly every year, and that 80 million Americans are at risk for eye diseases that can lead to low vision and blindness. Often precipitated by aging or disease, problems with the eyes could include macular degeneration, cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. While there are medical treatments and approaches to help those with some of these conditions, individuals who are proactive in maintaining eye health generally fare much better.
Listed below are five ways to maintain eye health:
- Get Off the Couch! – Exercise is often touted as the solution for all of our health problems, and it appears that the eyes are no exception. According to a 2006 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, exercising at least three times a week lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70 percent. Physical activity improves blood circulation, which boosts oxygen to the eyes, reduces inflammation and aids in the removal of toxins – all of which help to prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 60.
- Keep Eyes Moist – Severely dry eyes can lead to abrasions of the cornea and impair eye health. Be conscious of preserving eye moisture by aiming car vents at the feet instead of the eyes, running a humidifier in the winter when heating systems suck all the moisture out of your home, and drinking plenty of filtered water each day to prevent dehydration.
- Provide Eyes with Nutrients – Whether derived from food or supplements, there are a wide range of nutrients that benefit the eyes including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, copper, zinc, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry, lecithin, alpha lipoic acid and omega 3-fatty acids. Because few people are able to realistically eat a diet loaded with all of these nutrients, comprehensive eye nutrition supplements are often suggested to anyone wanting the best way to preserve eye health.
- Protect Eyes from Digital Harm – Between desktops, laptops, tablets, gaming devices and smart phones, Americans spend more time each day on electronic media than ever before. Unfortunately, all that screen time can lead to digital eyestrain, a condition that has a negative impact on eye health. To protect against digital eyestrain, experts suggest applying the 20/20/20 rule – when viewing a screen for long periods of time, rest every 20 minutes by staring at an object that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Shield Eyes from the Elements – Wear sunglasses with 100 percent UVA and UVB protection whenever outside. Frequent exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays increases the risk for cataracts and melanoma on the eyelids. Even when it’s not sunny out, good sunglasses protect against damaging rays and the drying effects of wind.
There is no guarantee for keeping your eyes as healthy as when you were young. However, those wanting to be proactive about maintaining their vision are not completely powerless. Getting regular exercise, paying attention to moisture levels, fortifying with beneficial nutrients, preventing eyestrain and wearing sunglasses are all valuable practices to preserve eye health.