Did you know that over half of the vision loss worldwide is preventable with proper care and treatment? Unfortunately, many people underestimate the importance of eye care until they experiment symptoms of eye problems, and we need to be aware of this fact. These are some tips to get healthier eyes and the best part is that you can make of this a personal checklist! Let´s see…
How can you have healthier eyes?
1. Don’t underestimate the importance of eye care
Awareness is the key to keeping your eyes healthy. We only have one pair for a lifetime and they cannot be replaced; therefore, you must protect your eyes if you want to preserve an optimal vision in the future.
2. Schedule your annual eye exam
Regular eye exams allow you to make sure you are able to see as well as possible. In addition, it will help you prevent eye diseases that can affect not only your vision, but also your overall health.
During the eye exam, your optometrist will examine your visual acuity and the health of the back of your eye. The eye health exam should be part of our yearly checkups, so let’s make it a habit!
3. Keep your glasses prescription updated
The eye’s prescription can changes over the years due to a variety of factors, and not having the prescription updated might lead to eye strain and headaches. In addition, the lenses filter and clarity decreases over the years due to scratches and over wear.
4. Be aware of your family ocular and medical history
This is essential for eye care because many conditions are hereditary and runs in our genes. So, ask your parents and grandparents about their health history for you to be aware of possible signs and symptoms. In addition, it is a great starting point for us to take preventive measures to change the medical history of our family.
5. Keep your eyes clean
In many times, water is not enough. Our eyelashes protect the eyes from debris, dust and small particles in the air. This is the reason you should to use a chemical free eyelid cleanser daily as part of your routine to keep clean and protected the outside part of the eyes.
6. Please, don’t sleep with your contact lenses
Believe me, your eyes will thank you later. When you sleep in your contact lenses, the risk of infections increases due to lack of oxygen and hydration, hence, your cornea loses its ability to fight bacteria effectively.
7. Do not over wear your contact lenses
Contact lenses modality could be daily, bi-weekly or monthly and every brand is made of different material for optimum comfort and vision. Your eye care provider will educate you about contact lenses replacement schedule to avoid dryness, discomfort, redness or infections.
8. Wear UV protection sunglasses and sunblock every day
Your eyes needs daily protection from UV light because there are many eye conditions caused by over exposure to the sun. Also, you must protecting the delicate skin around your eyes. Try to make it a habit to use sunblock before you leave your house every morning.
In order to have healthier eyes and keep them disease free for a longer time, it is better to wear sunglasses and sunblock every day.
9. Be careful with your eye make-up
Infection-causing bacteria grow easily in creamy or liquid eye makeup (like your eyelash mascara); also, some components may cause you severe allergies. For healthier eyes, is important that you:
- Only use quality cosmetics that are designed for use around the eyes.
- Never share eye makeup, even with family or closest friends.
- Throw away eye make-up after three months and get new products.
- Remove all eye makeup at night before sleeping.
10. Reduce your screen time
Yes, staring too long at a computer/tablet/phone or TV screen can affect your eyes. According to the statistics, adults spend over 11 hours per day looking at their screens. Being honest, the among of hours will not decrease; therefore, we should do something to protect our eyes from this constant exposure to blue light which the studies are indicating it contributes to eye strain and fatigue, dry eye and Macular Degeneration.
A blue light filter will decrease the amount of blue light exposure.
11. Practice the 20/20/20 rule
This is an eye care measure that gives your eyes a rest. The rule says that every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Our busy lifestyle might not allow us to practice this rule 100 %. However, you can always modify it according to your busy schedule, just do it!
12. Blink more frequently
Our eyes should normally blink 15-20 times per minute; while looking at screen, the blinking rate is reduced almost by half, leading to dry eyes, discomfort and fatigue.
13. Drink more water
Staying hydrated is necessary for both a good life and healthier eyes. Dehydration can lead to dry eyes, which need to produce tears to stay healthy and comfortable.
The amount of water intake recommended by experts is around 2 – 3 liters per day. It also depends on how active you are, your weight and height, any current medications or medical history.
14. Avoid rubbing your eyes
Rubbing feels good, but it’s really bad for your eyes because, most of the times, your hands are covered with a host of germs.
The cornea —which is the clear front surface of the eyes— tends to thin when rubbed, causing long-term blurring and distortion. In cases of injuries, rubbing may lead to corneal scratches and lacerations. In addition, continuous rubbing causes more itching, inflammation and dark circles around our eyes.
15. Quick smoking
It’s not surprising, right? Smoking, among so many other health conditions, also contributes to eye disease. In fact, studies show that smokers increase their chances of being affected two or three times over.
16. Maintain a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and Lutein
Some nutrient-rich foods are necessary for healthy eyes. The experts from The American Optometry Association and other important entities are in constant research to help us learn about a good and balance diet to boost our eye health.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are protective antioxidants found in the macula (the central part of our retina); they help reduced the aging process of our eyes. Our body does not make these two nutrients; therefore, it is very important to obtain them from our diet. These nutrients are found in kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, green peas, green beans; oranges, and some other vegetables.
Omega-3 fatty acids are good fats necessary in our diet to boost the immune system and maintain the integrity of the nervous system. Omega-3 are also essential for retinal function and proper visual development. Some of the foods where we can find Omega-3 include salmon, walnuts, flax seeds and sardines.
17. Keep a healthy lifestyle by exercising
The recommended amount of exercise by the American Heart Association is get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
18. Be aware of any new symptoms and take action as soon as possible
Our body talks and it’s important that we listen to its signals. If you start noticing blurriness, headaches, red eyes or flashes of light; the best you can do is schedule an appointment and get it check before it becomes a serious condition.
19. Follow instructions from your doctor
As an optometrist, my goal is to promote eye care and maximize my patients’ eye health. However, the success is at home and it depends on the compliance of every patient. Follow the instructions given by your doctor and when in doubt, get a second opinion or just ask for clarification.
20. Get fresh air
Did you know that the front surface of the eyes —like upper-layer skin cells— get a significant amount of oxygen directly from the air rather than from the blood? Our bodies get oxygen into the cells in the front surface of the cornea by simply absorbing it from the air. So, make sure your eyes get as much fresh air as possible.
As humans, we have the unique privilege to enjoy our surroundings to its fullest; to see colors, shapes and faces through the organ of eyesight. In order to enjoy healthier eyes, we need to start giving them the preventive care they need. Over the years you’ll be glad you did.