5 Tips to Protect Your Vision and Prevent Blindness


Preventive care can help you keep your eyes healthy and avoid common causes of blindness.

If you’ve never had a vision problem, you probably don’t give much thought to your eyes. And you may not be aware of the changes that occur as you age, some of which can dramatically affect the way you see — or even lead to blindness.
The good news is that even small preventive measures, like wearing sunglasses and eating greens, can help protect your eyesight and stave off vision problems later in life.

Here are 10 eye facts that will help you protect your eyes and your vision for years to come.

1. What you eat matters for your eye health. Eating well is the No. 1 way to take care of your eyes, says Rebecca Taylor, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Nashville Vision Associates in Tennessee, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. She also recommends that you aim to get your nutrients from food: “Eat vitamins instead of taking them.”

What should your eye-healthy plate look like? Pretty much like any good, healthy meal. Dr. Taylor starts with a big spinach or kale salad topped with brightly-colored vegetables. Green leafy vegetables provide the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, shown to help reduce risk for eye diseases, notes the AAO. And vitamin A found in bright yellow and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes boosts eye health, according to the National Institutes of Health. Adding fruits like strawberries, oranges, and mangoes provides vitamin C and other antioxidants, which Taylor says also help fight eye disease. She also includes salmon or other cold-water fish in her ideal meal, since omega 3s are good for tear production, which relieves dry eyes.

2. Comprehensive eye exams pick up vision problems early. Getting a regular eye exam is the only way to catch a variety of problems, such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease, ensuring you’ll get timely treatment. Most people with vision problems should see their eye doctor once a year to make sure their sight hasn’t changed.

For the rest of us, the AAO recomends the following eye exam schedule:

  • At 40: a baseline eye exam
  • From 40 to 55: an eye exam every 2 to 4 years
  • Ages 55 to 64: an eye exam every 1 to 3 years
  • At 65 and up: an eye exam every year

During the exam, your doctor will take your family history and check your pupils, central vision, color vision, and eye pressure. He or she will also dilate, or widen, your pupil using special eye drops to see the back of your eye and check for any damage.

3. Smoking now can cause eye problems later. “Get off tobacco in any form,” Taylor says. When you smoke, cyanide from the smoke gets into your bloodstream and can destroy the eye’s cells. Smoking puts you at higher risk of developing cataracts and increases problems with dry eyes. It also raises your risk of macular degeneration, an incurable condition that destroys vision in the center of the eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

4. You can help preserve your eyesight by protecting your eyes from the sun. Taylor recommends two safeguards for your eyes: sunscreen and sunglasses. The skin around your eyes is some of the thinnest on the body and is susceptible to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Various kinds of skin cancer, like carcinoma and melanoma, can form in the eyelids and around the eyes, causing major damage to the eye structure.

Sunglasses are also a must, according to Taylor. But don’t be fooled into thinking the darker, the better. “It’s the sticker you peel off of the glasses when you buy them” that matters, she says. Sunglasses should have complete, 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB (long and short wave) rays. Ultraviolet radiation stimulates the issues that cause both cataracts and macular degeneration — common causes of blindness.

5. Working on a computer all day can give you dry eyes. This is in part because when we do things up close, we don’t blink as much, Taylor says. Paradoxically, one of the most common symptoms of dry eyes is an eye that waters, says Steven Loomis, OD, of Roxborough Park, Colorado, president of the American Optometric Association. The breakdown of the oily and mucous layers of the eyes keeps tears from evaporating, and the eye compensates by producing more water, he says. Having “tired eyes” at the end of the day is another symptom.

Dry eyes can also be caused by:

  • Inflammation
  • Certain medications, including antidepressants
  • Hormonal changes due to aging

For treatment, try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds at something that is at least 20 feet away, recommends the Mayo Clinic. A warm compress is another simple treatment, Dr. Loomis says, as are artificial tears — but not the ones that “get the red out,” since they can restrict blood to the tear glands. If these treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may prescribe a product like Restasis (cyclosporine) to cut down on inflammation.

If you ever have any questions about your eyes, it is best to make an appointment with Your Trusted Eyecare Provider – Optical Solutions in Austintown, OH (330) 797-8780 or in Niles, OH (330) 349-4690.

Published by knanosky

Our first piece of advice when we bought our Airstream was from friends and fellow campers. They said to make sure you "keep the shiny side up." Something that struck me kind of funny, but so true :)

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