At what moment of our waking day do we not use our eyes? We rely on our eyesight for literally everything that we do during the day. Most of us take our eyesight for granted, yet losing vision is a common fear. According to our National Vision Survey you told us that sight is the most important of the five senses.
If our vision is so essential and precious to us, what can we do to help preserve our eyesight? Here are five ways that you can help protect your eyes so you can enjoy clearer vision for years to come:
- Schedule yearly comprehensive eye exams. Comprehensive eye exams are useful for much more than assessing vision. An eye exam can detect other health issues such as hypertension and diabetes. Under the Affordable Care Act, vision coverage is now a component of the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit, which means that children up to age 19 have access to vision benefits. When should children have their first eye exam? It is earlier than you think! Kids who exhibit no problems should have a comprehensive eye exam between 2 to 3 years of age, obviously earlier if they begin to experience problems with their vision. Some states mandate an eye exam before starting kindergarten
- Protect Eyes from Ultraviolet (UV) Rays. We are more vigilant to protect our skin from the sun’s rays than our eyes. Choose sunglasses that offer 100 percent UVA/UVB protection or are marked UV 400. Even when it is not sunny outside, UV rays can still cause eye damage. Make sunglasses a daily habit when you are outside, and pair your shades with a wide-brimmed hat to protect the delicate skin around your eyes and face.
- Take regular breaks from digital devices. Two thirds of Americans spend almost seven hours a day using digital devices such as computers, tablets and smart phones. Too much screen time can cause computer vision syndrome (CVS), which results in headaches, eye strain, dry eye, fatigue and pain in the back and neck. To avoid CVS, adhere to the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. If you are sitting at a desk, you should use this time to walk around your desk or walk around the hall to increase blood circulation.
- Wear and care for contacts properly. Contacts can be a very convenient alternative to eyeglasses, but they can pose a serious risk to your eyesight if you do not maintain good habits. More than 40 million Americans wear corrective contact lenses, but most do not follow their doctor’s guidelines. Over-wearing contact lenses and not cleaning lenses adequately are common causes of blurred vision, irritated eyes and inflammation.
- Eat those veggies. Six nutrients play a key role in protecting vision and promoting eye health: essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E, the mineral zinc, and antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Your body does not make these nutrients, so you must obtain them from food. Eating a colorful variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, will ensure that your eyes are nourished with these important nutrients (Source: Idaho State Journal).