Protecting your perception—and not just in hindsight
Protecting our eyesight is one of the most important things we can do to maintain the quality of our lives. Yet according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), 20 million Americans suffer from severe vision loss. While not all eye problems can be prevented, there are numerous steps we can take to help our eyes remain healthy.
Get a baseline eye exam. Most major causes of sight loss have no symptoms during their early stages when they’re most treatable. Thus, it’s essential to get a baseline eye exam at age 40, the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may begin to occur. After this screening, your doctor can prescribe the intervals for follow-up exams.
Don’t smoke. Tobacco smoking is related to many health problems including age-related macular degeneration. Smokers and ex-smokers are far more likely to develop this condition than non-smokers.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Numerous studies have shown that antioxidants can possibly reduce the risk of cataracts. You can obtain antioxidants by eating a diet with plenty of fruit and colorful or dark green vegetables.
Exercise regularly. Something as simple as a 20 to 30 minute daily walk reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70 percent.
Have regular physical exams to check for diabetes and high blood pressure. Left untreated, both of these conditions can cause eye problems including eye strokes, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.
Know your family history. To protect your vision, learn if conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes run in your family.
Wear sunglasses. Wear these to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, reducing your risk of cataracts and other eye problems.
Wear protective glasses. About 2.5 million Americans suffer eye injuries each year, and you should wear protective glasses when playing contact sports or using power tools.
Avoid eye fatigue. In this age of information technology, many spend long hours staring at computer screens. To reduce eye strain follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Taking these steps won’t guarantee perfect vision, but they’ll go a long way toward preventing sight-stealing problems that compromise the quality of your life.
By David Buice