Your eyes are your window to the world. Are you treating them with the respect and care that they deserve? March is Healthy Vision Month, a time to renew your commitment to your vision by taking proactive steps to protect your gift of sight. You can celebrate Healthy Vision Month in four ways:
Get a dilated eye exam
A comprehensive eye exam by a licensed eye care specialist includes eye dilation. Dilating the eyes is the only way to detect eye disease early and begin immediate treatment. Many eye diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration have no warning signs in the early stages. Once there are symptoms present, it often means that permanent damage has already occurred. Even if you do not think that your vision has changed, it is wise to get a dilated eye exam on a regular basis. Your eye care professional can give you guidance as to how often you should schedule comprehensive eye exams with dilation.
Know Your Family History
You may know fascinating facts about your family genealogy, but are you aware of your family’s health history? It is just as important to know what eye conditions and diseases run in your family because many eye diseases are genetically linked. Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins about their eye health history. You may learn that you are at elevated risk for an eye disease. This new information can help your eye care professional be on the lookout for warning signs and even perform some specialized testing.
Use protective eyewear
If you think that being careful is enough to protect your eyes, think again. Every day, 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related injury that requires medical treatment, and every 13 minutes, an ER treats a sports-related injury. Protecting your eyes with safety goggles, safety glasses, eye guards, and sunglasses can prevent most injuries at home, on the job or outside. Sunglasses should be worn in all types of weather, and not just when it is sunny outside. Talk to your eye care professional about wearing the appropriate type of protective eyewear for each activity. You will need to invest in multiple types of eye protection to adequately shield your eyes in your various activities.
Living a healthy lifestyle
Healthy vision is a natural result of living a healthy lifestyle. If you need to make a change in your life, here are some characteristics of a healthy lifestyle:
- Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and leafy greens, as well as foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Maintaining a healthy weight lowers your risk for developing glaucoma or diabetic eye disease
- Quitting smoking will immediately benefit your eyes by lowering your risk for cataracts, optic nerve damage and age-related macular degeneration
- Managing chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension could help prevent chronic eye conditions like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and inflammation of the optic nerve (Source: National Eye Institute).