Your two eyes are the only ones you’ve got, but are you doing everything you can to protect them? This month, we’re checking in on your eye care routine and giving you tips to protect your eyes and your vision. Did you know that many vision problems aren’t inevitable? You can mitigate the effects of hereditary, age-related, and other eye problems through proper eye care. Use our handy checklist to see how you’re doing.


Have you been to the eye doctor in the past year?


Getting a regular eye exam is one of the top things you can do to protect your eyes and keep your entire visual system as healthy as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 93 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision loss, but only half saw an eye doctor in the past 12 months.


Do you have a record of your family history?


Eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma are genetic. Since these diseases are two of the leading causes of blindness, you should know if they run in your family. If you haven’t discussed your family’s history with eye conditions and disorders, seek out your parents, siblings, or other family members if possible. Your eye doctor will want to keep these things in his or her records, as well.


Are you taking regular screen breaks?


Screens from phones, tablets and computers have become omnipresent in our lives. But although they are helpful tools, looking at a screen all day, every day, can compromise your vision and cause eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes, headaches, and other symptoms. Give your eyes a rest from up-close screen work every 20 minutes, and shift your gaze to something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.


Are you managing existing health conditions?


If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other systematic health conditions and you let them get out of hand, your vision could be affected. There are a number of diseases and conditions that can compromise your vision, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, multiple sclerosis, and a variety of others. If you have any conditions, be sure to talk with your doctor to understand ramifications for your vision and what you can do to minimize potential issues.


Are you eating a vision-protecting diet?


Yep, healthy foods can protect your vision. Opt for a diet rooted in a variety of whole foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, lutein, and vitamins C and E. Think leafy greens, legumes, nuts, fruits, and fatty fish. When you fill up on these kinds of nutrient-rich foods, it helps you avoid conditions that can lead to eye problems, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Diabetes in particular can lead to a vision-threatening disease called diabetic retinopathy, and a healthy diet is a big part of keeping diabetes in check.


Are you exercising regularly?


You may not know that moving your body is as good for your eyes as it is for your heart. Regular exercise can lower your risk of many health conditions that are known to lead to vision trouble, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Thirty minutes a day is all it takes to “feed” your eyes with the nutrients it needs: This reduces intraocular eye pressure and gets the blood flowing to the optic nerve and retina.


Are you wearing protective eyewear?


This can include sunglasses to guard against UVA and UVB radiation, as well as eyewear that protects your eyes during sports or other activities. Anytime you’re outside, including when you’re driving and even if it’s cloudy, sport sunglasses that say they block 99 to 100 percent of harmful rays. If you’re doing home repairs, woodworking, painting, or playing sports, wear appropriate goggles or safety glasses.


Are you taking good care of your contacts?


If you wear contact lenses, make sure you are caring for and wearing them properly. This means cleaning them as directed, not wearing them longer than intended, and taking them out before you take a swim. Improper wear or cleaning of contacts can lead to an unsightly eye infection.


Are you still smoking?


Here’s another reason to quit: Doing so can keep your eyes healthy. Smoking doesn’t just contribute to heart disease and cancer; it also damages your optic nerve, increasing your risk of diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts. It can also cause lesser, but still problematic, eye problems, such as dry eye.


Are you taking all your medications?


If you have an existing eye disease or condition, you may have been prescribed medicine for that condition. Be sure to take these as directed and to follow any other instructions from your eye doctor; not doing so could have serious consequences for your eye health.


How can we help protect your eye health?


If you have any questions about symptoms you’re experiencing, other concerns, or want to make an appointment for an eye exam, contact us today.

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