In June, we discussed eye safety. This month, we will expand on that topic and discuss other ways to improve your general eye health.
Get your dilated eye exams.
It is important to keep up with your annual eye exams so that doctors can look for conditions that may not cause any symptoms. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that everyone should have an exam at age 40 and every 1-2 years at age 65. Although the dilated exam requires us to put drops in the eyes that make you blurry for a few hours, it is worth it. No photo or undilated exam will give as complete of an exam as when doctors use the dilation drops.
See an eye doctor when you have a problem.
Do not wait to see a specialist when you have had an injury or experience new eye symptoms. It can be harder to treat certain conditions if you wait too long.
Know your family history.
Some eye conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration have a strong genetic link. If you have had family members with eye problems, it is good to know what those are and let your eye doctor know as you may be at higher risk for these diseases.
Eat well and exercise.
Even though carrots are thought of as the most important vegetable for eye health, green leafy vegetables have even more nutrients that protect the eyes. Omega-3s are also good for eye health as is keeping an active lifestyle.
Do not smoke.
Smoking causes several conditions of the eyes to worsen including macular degeneration and thyroid eye disease. If you are not a smoker, do not start and if you are, see your primary care doctor for resources to help you quit.
Do not rub the eyes.
Constant rubbing of the eyes can cause distortions of the cornea, break the small blood vessels over the sclera, and cause dark circles around the eyes. It is best to avoid all rubbing.
Remove all makeup.
Eye makeup can cause inflammation of the eyelids and lashes, blepharitis, if left on for long periods of time. It is recommended to wash off all makeup before going to sleep. Do not share makeup with others and throw out any old makeup.
Limit screen use.
Long term screen use including computers, laptops, cell phones, and TVs can cause eye strain and dry eye as tears evaporate from the eye surface. It is recommended to take frequent breaks to combat this by looking away from the screen every 20-30 minutes for 30 seconds and blink to redistribute the tears. See our post on dry eye for more treatments.
Minimize air directly to the eyes.
When air is blown directly into the eyes, it can also strip away the tears from the surface. Try not to have the car vents pointed toward the face and limit use of ceiling fans which can create an artificial wind.
Practice good contact lens hygiene.
Contact lenses can cause many issues in the eyes if not properly used. Do not sleep in the contact lenses as infections can easily occur. Use the correct lens solution to store them and clean and replace the case regularly. Always have clean hands when removing or placing the contact lenses.
If you have had or think you have had an injury, seek help from an ophthalmologist or go to your local emergency room right away. Permanent vision changes or vision loss can occur from delaying treatment.
To prevent additional damage to the eye after an injury it is important to keep these tips in mind:
- Do not rub or apply pressure to the eye.
- If there is an object stuck in the eye, do not attempt to remove it.
- Do not apply any medication to the eye.
- Flush the eye with clean water if it has been exposed to a chemical.
- Gently cover the eye with a shield until seen by a physician.
Return next month for a new topic!