Of all our senses, most of us would agree that our sense of sight is the most precious. After all, what would life be without being able to see the majesty of nature, the changing of the seasons and the dear and familiar faces of those we love? As much as we value our eyesight, most people are compromising their vision every day by seemingly “small” decisions that have a cumulative effect on their eyes.
Here are six ways that you can preserve your most valued possession:
- Keep a safe distance between your eyes and the screen—The consistent glare of an electronic screen can lead to eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, dry eye and refocusing problems. Maintain at least an arm’s length between your eyes and a computer screen and 16 inches between your eyes and a handheld device. Also try to remember to look down at a screen instead of up. Looking down exposes less surface area of the eye.
- Take time to blink—When we are not viewing a screen, we usually blink between 15 to 20 times per minute. That rate drops 50 percent when looking at a screen. To avoid dry eye that results from not blinking enough, follow the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds at an object at least 20 feet away.
- Wear UV-protecting sunglasses—UV rays will deteriorate vision over time and can lead to cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and growths on the eye’s surface. Choose sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays and that screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. Polarized sunglasses are even better because they have been treated to reduce glare.
- Care for contact lenses correctly—While 85 percent of individuals who wear contact lenses think that they are caring for their lenses properly, only 2 percent actually are caring for them appropriately. Replace your lenses as directed and do not try to use your lenses longer than recommended, even if they are not causing eye irritation. Only moisten the lenses with saline solution, and always store lenses in fresh solution. Try to remove your contacts early in the evening and wear your glasses to allow your eyes to get adequate oxygen. Also, consider wearing your glasses once a week to give your eyes a break.
- Wear those goggles—Safety glasses are useful for more than just power tools. Wear safety glasses or goggles for yard work, home repair and any work that requires you to work with chemicals. Strong cleaning products can severely damage your eyes, so protect your eyes appropriately by wearing correct eyewear.
- Make your eye doctor your friend—Even if you do not need corrective lenses, all adults over 40 should have regular eye exams. A comprehensive eye exam can be good evaluation of overall health. The eye is a unique window into your body, offering a view of blood vessels, arteries and your cranial nerve. Don’t miss the chance to preserve your eye health.