by Caroline Cauchi, OD
May is the month we observe Healthy Vision Month. Every day we discuss with our patients ways to keep their eyes happy and healthy over their lifetime. Some eye diseases are tied to your genetic make-up and therefore may be predetermined to occur to you, but many other eye issues come from environmental factors which can be controlled.
Some basic recommendations to follow:
- If you smoke, stop smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes are damaging to your eye structures and blood vessels. Smoking puts you at risk of developing cataracts at an earlier age and sight-threatening glaucoma and macular degeneration. It also increases your risk of having a stroke of your eye’s blood vessels causing blindness.
- Wear sunglasses. Just like wearing sunscreen on your skin, sunglasses are like sunscreen for your eyes. Repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation over your lifetime increases the frequency of developing macular degeneration and cataracts. Also, one of the highest frequencies of skin cancer occurs around the thin, sensitive skin on and around your eyelids. Sunglasses wear will keep all these structure protected.
- Eat healthy. What we put in our bodies really does matter for eye health. Anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals found in green, yellow, orange fruits and veggies are found to promote increased pigment in our retina which protects us from damage from the sun and our environment. If you eat red meat, limit your consumption. Eat lean meat like chicken or fish. Fish gives you omega-3 fatty acids allowing for increased tear production and improvement in brain function.
- Take breaks from your digital devices. Devices such as phones, tablets, and computers place lots of eyestrain on our eyes due to the unnatural amount of focusing required to stare at these screens for hours at a time. Every 20 min. look 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. These devices also emit a high intensity blue wavelength of light that current research is showing can be just as damaging to our eyes as UV radiation. A blue blocking coating can be put on glasses that helps to decrease the amount of exposure to this ”bad” blue light while allowing the “good” blue light through so your circadian rhythm is not disrupted. Remember to blink often to coat your eyes with tears and alleviate the dry eye occurring when viewing the screen.
We want your eyes to stay healthy for your lifetime. Paying attention to the above recommendations will keep you on that pathway to great vision! See you at your next eye exam!