As we ring in 2019, many people are busy making their New Year’s Resolutions. Here are a few to improve and protect your vision and eye health:
1. Schedule an annual, comprehensive eye exam. Even if you aren’t experiencing any vision issues, regular eye exams by an ophthalmologist or optometrist are critical to maintaining the overall health of your eyes. Early detection of common eye diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy is important to achieve optimal treatment. During an eye exam, your eye doctor may even spot early signs of other overall health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or stroke risk.
2. Eat a healthy diet. Aim to eat a diet that is low in fat and full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This can help to reduce your risk of developing cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Look for foods rich in vitamin A, vitamin C vitamin E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Stop smoking. Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable disease and can increase your risk of developing eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, uveitis and cataracts. Quitting at any age can significantly reduce your risk.
4. Exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This helps you to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight — all important ways to improve your overall and eye health.
5. Wear sunglasses. Wear sunglasses whenever you are outside — even on overcast and winter days. They help to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays which over time can increase your risk for developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
6. Rest your eyes. If you work on a computer, try to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
7. Wear protective eyewear. To help prevent eye injuries, be sure to wear protective eye equipment when you are playing sports or working with power tools.
8. Know your family history of eye disease. Many eye diseases and conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma can run in families. Learn your family’s history and share it with your eye doctor to help detect any signs of potential disease early when treatment can be most effective.