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Healthy Habits for Maintaining Good Vision at every Age

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Like every part of the body, eyes need routine maintenance to perform their very best. Healthy vision can be supported by a combination of healthy lifestyle choices, proper hygiene, and regular check-ups with your eye doctor. Whatever your age, smart choices promote optimal eye health, vision and comfort.

TIPS FOR MAINTAINING GOOD VISION

Make sure to follow these 15 common sense practices:

Get Regular Eye Exams

Comprehensive eye exams are an important part of caring for yourself, as well as those who depend on you. Taking time out for routine eye exams allows your eye doctor to discover treatable issues like glaucoma, cataracts and other problems before they have a chance to severely damage vision. Regular eye exams are a crucial step in preventing serious vision loss.

Eye exams for children: Newborns should have an eye assessment to discover any abnormalities early on, so they may be monitored and corrected, and then throughout childhood as often as recommended by your eye doctor.

Eye exams for adults:

  1.  Get a baseline comprehensive eye exam by age 40, or earlier if you are at increased risk of an eye disease like glaucoma. People who have ocular symptoms, a family history of certain eye diseases or diabetes, and African-Americans, who run an increased risk of glaucoma, may consider getting a baseline exam even earlier. A baseline eye health exam establishes your eye health before presbyopia (age-related near vision loss) and other eye conditions begin to affect vision, so changes can be easily monitored.
  2. Ages 40-54, get a comprehensive eye exam every 1-4 years, depending on your baseline exam and recommendations from your eye doctor.
  3. Ages 55-64, get an exam every 1-3 years, even if your vision seems fine. Discovering eye diseases, conditions and changes early promotes the best chance of managing and correcting problems before they can damage vision.
  4. Ages 65 and older, get an exam every 1-2 years.

Getting your baseline eye exam will allow your doctor to notice any changes early, when they are most easily treated, and provide a customized care plan specifically for you.

If you have an ocular disease, more frequent exams may be warranted to ensure vision protection. People with conditions like diabetes may require comprehensive eye exams at least once a year. If you notice sudden changes in vision, new floaters or other symptoms, see your eye doctor immediately.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Like your heart, your eyes benefit from robust arterial health. Help support the tiny arteries delivering nutrients and oxygen to your eyes by consuming a diet rich in vegetables, fruits (especially berries), whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids (like flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon and sardines). If you’re in charge of young ones, encourage them to eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals.

Get Regular Exercise

Again, cardiovascular health directly affects your eyes, so try to get plenty of movement in your day at least 4-5 days a week. Going for a daily walk can improve circulation throughout your body and help your vision remain healthy.

Encourage young ones to play outdoors regularly, which research suggests may reduce the risk of myopia (nearsightedness).

Stay Hydrated

Adequate hydration helps maintain the moisture level in your eyes, reducing the risk of dryness and discomfort. Although the ideal amount of water varies depending on things like health, activity level and climate, a general daily guideline is 13-16 cups of fluids for men and 9-12 for women. Food accounts for about 20% of fluid intake.

Ensure children are well-hydrated. General recommendations are: ages 1-8: 4 cups of water a day; ages 9-14: 7-8 cups a day; 14-18: 8-11 cups a day, adjusted for the child’s gender, activity level, climate, etc. For specific guidance, talk to your child’s eye doctor or pediatrician.

Get Enough Sleep

You may be noticing a pattern: good healthcare practices support healthy vision. Sufficient sleep reduces the chance of eye fatigue, redness, dryness and discomfort, so try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Children ages 6-12 should get 9-12 hours, and teens 8-10 hours of sleep per 24 hours.

Quit Smoking

Of course, we all know the dangers of smoking, but did you know that smoking is linked to an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye syndrome and diabetic retinopathy? Simply put, smoking can lead to severe vision loss, even blindness. No matter how long you have smoked, quitting now may significantly reduce your risk of serious eye diseases and vision loss.

Wear Quality Sunglasses

Outdoors, protect your eyes from harmful UV rays with sunglasses labeled to block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Did you know as much as 80% of our lifetime exposure to UV rays occurs before the age of 18? Therefore, children should wear sunglasses whenever outdoors to protect their developing eyes and vision.

Limit Screen Time

When using digital devices, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Making this a habit can help prevent eye strain. Establish screen time limits for children, especially within the hours before bedtime to reduce the risk of eye strain and sleep disorders.

Manage Chronic Conditions

Diseases like diabetes and hypertension can impact eye health. Get regular medical check-ups for you and any children under your care. Take steps to get and keep your numbers (blood pressure, glucose, etc.) in a healthy range.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity is linked to an increased risk of conditions like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Making lifestyle changes to reduce weight by even a few pounds may result in significant improvements in overall health and reduce the risk of eye and vision damage.

Use Adequate Lighting

Working, reading or performing close-up tasks in low-light conditions can cause eye strain. Make sure you have sufficient surrounding lighting and aren’t relying solely on screen lighting, which can be glaring and irritating to eyes. Encourage kids to utilize adequate lighting when reading, scrolling, etc.

Keep Eyes Comfortably Moist

Dry eyes are more than uncomfortable – they can be prone to infection and abrasion. When staring at digital screens, make it a habit to blink regularly to keep your eyes bathed in your natural tear film.

For occasional eye dryness due to wind, weather, irritants or allergens, over-the-counter artificial tears can help keep eyes feeling moist and comfortable. Some eye drops, including those promising to “get the red out,” contain ingredients that can actually make redness and irritation worse, especially with frequent use. For this reason, most eye doctors recommend using preservative-free artificial tears. If you find yourself needing eye drops more than 4 times a day, talk to your eye doctor about more lasting solutions.

Keep Things Clean

Always wash your hands before touching the area around your eyes, especially before inserting or removing contact lenses. Don’t sleep, shower or swim without first removing contact lenses. If you suffer from allergies, wash your face after allergen exposure and again before bed to reduce irritation. Baby shampoo and specialized eyelid washes and wipes can be used to gently cleanse eyelids. Make sure to remove any eye make-up before bedtime to reduce the risk of eye irritation or abrasion, and eyelid infections. Throw away eye make-up after 3 months.

Practice Eye Safety

When performing certain sports, jobs, hobbies or home improvement projects, protect your eyes from injury by wearing appropriate glasses or goggles. When warranted, ensure the eyewear is approved for the task, for example, bearing an ANSI Z87 safety rating.

Follow Prescription Directions

If you have been prescribed eyeglasses, or wear contact lenses, wear them as directed by your eye care professional. If you use contact lenses, clean, store and dispose of them as directed. Trying to extend the life of contact lenses, or failing to clean and store them correctly, can lead to sometimes dangerous infections. Saving a buck should never come before healthy eyes and vision.

MAINTAIN YOUR VISION AT LAKE EYE

Making these habits a part of your daily life, and encouraging them in children, can promote and maintain healthy vision throughout every stage of life. Remember, regular eye check-ups are crucial for the early detection and treatment of disease to help prevent vision loss. If you haven’t had a comprehensive eye exam in a while, now is a great time to show your eyes some love with a call to your local Lake Eye (a US Eye company). With six state-of-the-art locations, there’s a Lake Eye office and adjoining optical boutique near you.

Written by useye

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