Let's Clear Up Some Facts About Eyes

By Sandy Schroeder

Close your eyes. Now imagine what it would be like if you opened them and it was still dark! Blindness is a world most of us fear and hope to avoid. But knowing what to do can make a huge difference in retaining vision, according to the Harvard medical community.

Simple Rules

Get Regular Exams - Whatever age you are, get regular eye exams with glasses or contacts if you need them. If you are squinting at the computer screen, or finding it hard to read street signs, have your vision checked. Don’t pick up drugstore glasses to magnify print.

Guard Against the Sun – It’s all too easy to spend time outside without sunglasses. But the price can be too high, leading to possible blindness in age-related macular degeneration, or the onset of cloudy vision with cataracts.  When you are out in the sun, always wear protective sunglasses to shield your eyes. If you need prescription lenses for distance, your ophthalmologist can supply transitional lenses that go from light to dark, allowing you to keep your glasses on wherever you are.

No Smoking –  Smoking doubles the risk of cataracts, changing the lens of the eyes to create cloudy vision.  It triples the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness for people over 65. Smoking also ups the risk of glaucoma, which is another leading cause of blindness, and increases the risk of diabetes with blood vessel damage in the eyes. If you do continue to smoke, make regular complete eye examinations with an ophthalmologist a priority.

Know What to Eat - Learn what foods will protect your eyes. Carrots and yams supply Vitamin A.  Fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, add antioxidant vitamins, such as C and E. Antioxidants may even help protect the eyes against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Coldwater fish such as tuna, mackerel, sardines and salmon add valuable omega-3 fatty acids.

Keep Computer Work Comfortable - Staring at a computer screen for long periods can trigger tired eyes and eyestrain. There is a tendency to blink less, which can cause the eyes to feel dry. Adjust the lighting to eliminate glare or reflections, and take brief breaks every 20 minutes, looking away from the screen. Deliberately blink to keep your eyes lubricated.

Pick Good Lighting -  Dim lighting will tire your eyes quicker. Reading lights should shine directly onto the page, not over your shoulder. Desk lamps with opaque shades, such as the green banker lights, are ideal for reading.  

Overall, a significant portion of eye health can be what we make it. Most of us have friends or family who have either excelled in this or have been careless, smoking, skipping sunglasses, and eating a poor diet. The contrast is stunning.

Take the high road and enjoy the view! Begin early with regular checkups, emphasizing care and safety, and keep it up to protect your vision.

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