Seeing Is Believing: 7 Tips for Optimal Eye Health
As you’re reading this, let me give you a quick reminder: blink!
Shawn Palmer, MD, an eye physician and surgeon in Folsom, says forgetting to blink is one of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to taking care of their eyes. “You may notice your eyes feeling dry after staring at a screen or reading for a long time,” he says. Other common concerns? “Skipping eyelash hygiene, especially if you’re wearing mascara; not wearing your sunglasses, even on cloudy days and in the winter; and thinking you don’t need safety glasses,” he states. Keep reading for seven simple tips to maintain optimal eye health.
1) Get your eyes checked every year
Jennifer Wademan, OD, eye doctor and owner of Bidwell Optometry in Folsom, says your checkups should be prioritized. “How important is your vision? Most people would say it’s their most important sense, yet they go years without eye exams, updating glasses and contacts, or just plain ignore symptoms that could indicate eyesight problems.”
How often should you get checkups? “Your eyes should have a routine vision check once every year, unless recommended otherwise by your optometrist, or if you notice changes such as blurred vision, flashes of light, floaters, or black spots,” says Amber Bingham, optician at Roseville Vision Center.
2) Know that your physical health impacts your eye health
“Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and thyroid problems directly affect your eyes,” says Bingham. “If you aren’t managing these diseases and being compliant by taking medications and making lifestyle changes, it can have irreversible consequences.”
3) Be diligent with wearing sunglasses
“Sunglasses are necessary to block harmful UV rays that can lead to premature cataracts. They protect the delicate skin around our eyes from being burned, which can lead to skin cancer. Your eyes also need protection from the sun and can get sunburnt as well,” states Bingham. When purchasing sunglasses, Dr. Palmer suggests looking for ones that block out 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation.
4) Eat a healthy diet
Dark leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and fish oils aid in keeping your eyes strong and help fight against certain diseases, including macular degeneration, says Allisyn Feucht, OD, at El Dorado Hills Optometric Center. If you’re suffering from dry eye, Dr. Wademan suggests adding an omega-3 supplement to your diet. “Diet is monumental,” she asserts.
5) Be wary of eye drops
“Not all over-the-counter drops are good for your eyes,” Bingham cautions. “Usually redness to the conjunctiva (or white part) of your eye is a sign there may be something going on, such as dry eyes, allergies, or an infection. Drops, like Visine, don’t correct the problem—they mask it by ‘getting the red out.’ Speak with your optometrist about what drops will work best for you.”
6) Step away from the screens
“When we’re focusing on our phones and screens for long periods of time, we tend not to blink as often and our eyes dry out,” Dr. Feucht says. “Screens can cause eye strain and we need to take breaks from the long periods of time we spend in front of them.”
As for the pesky blue light emitted from screens? It can lead to eye discomfort and make it harder to fall asleep. “Blue-light-blocking filters on screens or in glasses can be helpful to protect the eyes and to view screens more comfortably,” she adds.
7) Maintain your prescriptions
“Have your prescription glasses and contact lenses checked every year,” suggests Dr. Feucht. Typically, glasses prescriptions expire two years after the refraction, or prescription check, while contact lens prescriptions expire in one year. Since contact lenses come in contact with the eye, they do come with more risks than glasses. “Contact lenses need to be cared for diligently and differ depending on the length of wear-time. If contact lenses are over-worn, the risk of complications and eye infections goes up,” she says. “It’s important to follow instructions with contact lenses and if something does not feel right, get it checked right away.”
By Kourtney Jason