Health and Wellness from Humana - Tips to Protect Your Sight

March 08, 2011

Going to the optometrist for vision checkups

Would you like to take better care of yourself and your health? One simple way is to start taking better care of your eyes. Healthy eyes are an important part of living a healthy and full life. And by taking steps to improve your sight and protect your eyes from harm, you have a great chance of seeing and living well for many years.

The National Eye Institute offers these simple tips to help you keep your eyes healthy and happy. You may be doing some of them already, but the more you do, the better off your eyes will be.

  1. Get regular eye checkups

    Seeing an eye doctor once a year is maybe the most important thing you can do for your eyes and your general health. These checkups can let you know about vision problems you may have and help you fix them with glasses or contact lenses. Having clear vision can improve your quality of life, And it can also help you avoid headaches and other eye-related health problems.

    Your eye doctor will also look for signs of eye disease, such as glaucoma, that may have no symptoms. Finding such eye diseases early enough can help prevent more problems and even blindness.

    Just as important, according to allaboutvision.com, "your eye doctor may be able to tell you if you are developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other problems." Finding these things out early can give your regular doctor a better chance of treating the condition.

  2. Know your family's eye health history

    Knowing if someone in your family has had eye disease of any kind can help your doctor know what to look for during checkups.

  3. Eat right

    Eating fruits and vegetables is good for your eyes, as well as your body. A study found in Archives of Ophthalmology (2007; 125(9): 1225–1232) finds that eating fruits and "dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens" is important for keeping your eyes healthy. The National Eye Institute also says that fish such as salmon, tuna, and halibut can be good for your eyes.

  4. Manage your weight

    Being overweight puts you at greater risk of getting diabetes. And with diabetes comes a greater risk of developing serious eye problems. If you need help losing weight, talk to your doctor today.

  5. Wear safety glasses

    Eye problems aren't just caused by disease. Every day, across the country, thousands of people of all ages hurt their eyes at home and at work. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that "each day, about 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment." And according to Prevent Blindness America®, "accidents involving common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year." The good news? As many as 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented by wearing safety glasses, safety goggles, or face shields. So make sure to wear something to protect your eyes when you play sports or work with tools or chemicals.

  6. Quit smoking, or, better yet - don't start

    Smoking is not only bad for your general health, but it is also bad for your eyes. Studies, including a report from the Surgeon General of the United States, have found that smoking can lead to eye disease.

  7. Wear sunglasses

    UV rays from the sun can damage your eyes and lead to diseases that can cause blindness. So always wear sunglasses when outside. And remember, sunglasses aren't just for summer. Wear them in the winter to block harmful glare from ice and snow. When choosing sunglasses, find a pair that blocks 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays.

  8. Give your eyes a rest

    When working on a computer for long periods of time, you should take breaks to reduce strain on your eyes. The National Eye Institute says to follow the "20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds."

  9. Keep your contacts, and your hands, clean

    If you wear contact lenses, make sure you wash your hands before putting them in or taking them out. Also, be sure to clean your contacts as directed. Replace them as often as your doctor says. Following these simple steps can help protect your eyes from infections.

Now that you know some ways you can care for the health of your own eyes, you should also know that you can do things to protect the eyes of children.

Just as for adults, it's very important for children to have regular eye checkups. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first full eye checkup at 6 months of age. Children should then have another eye exam at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade, at about age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends a checkup every two years if no vision correction is needed. Children who need glasses or contact lenses should be checked once a year or as directed by their eye doctor.

You can also take the following steps to help protect your child's eyes from harm around your house:

  • Check for sharp corners on furniture or other items and either remove the items or cover the sharp edges.
  • Make sure toys in the house are right for your child's age, keeping toys with sharp edges and shooting parts away from any young children.
  • Have your child wash his or her hands often to help avoid illness and eye infections.

If you take care of your eyes, your eyes will take care of you. And by following some or all of these tips, you will have a great chance of having happy, healthy eyes for life!

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