Healthy Vision Starts Here: 6 Tips That Look Good
Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Feb 7, 2022.
Get Regular Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exams
Everyone should have regular eye examinations, regardless of whether or not they are having any eye problems. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect certain eye diseases in their early stages. Suggested frequencies are:
- School-aged children: before starting school then at least every 2 years
- Adults aged 20 to 30: every 5 to 10 years
- Adults aged 40 to 65: every 2 to 4 years
- Adults over 65: every 1 to 2 years
- People with a history of vision problems or with risk factors (such as diabetes): yearly or as recommended by your eye care professional.
Talk to your doctor if your baby or toddler's eyes look abnormal. Eye problems such as a lazy eye, crossed eyes, or turned-out eyes are common in young children. Depending on how co-operative your child is, a formal eye examination may be possible between the ages of three and five years if you have concerns about your child's eyes.
Don't hesitate to go to an optometrist for an eye exam if:
- Lines appear altered or wavy when they should be straight
- Your central vision becomes blurred
- Colors appear washed out or dull or you notice a decrease in their intensity or brightness
- You develop double vision
- Your eyes hurt
- You experience floaters or flashes of light across your vision
- You suddenly lose your vision
- You notice changes in how your eyes look, such as yellowing of the eyes or dark pigmented spots.
Know Your Family History
Do you remember your great Aunt Martha developing glaucoma? While it is easy to see we inherit eye color from our relatives, it is not so easy to tell whose eye health we have inherited. But for conditions like primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma, a family history of the condition increases your risk 4 to 9 fold.
Several other eye diseases are also more prevalent in certain families . Talk to your family about their eye health. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease yourself.
Protect Your Eyes At Work, Home Or Play
Statistics for eye injuries are an eye opener. Medical treatment for an eye injury is required by almost 2,000 U.S. employees every day! Sports-related eye injuries requiring ER treatment occur every 13 minutes.
Think you are safe at home? Think again. Our homes are a minefield of potential vision-impairing objects and chemicals. Our lawnmowers turn harmless stones into missile-like projectiles. Over vigorous window-cleaning or bath-scrubbing may lead to an eye dousing with chemical-laden cleaning products. Not to mention flying chips of wood from over enthusiastic DIY-ers. Just under half of all people surveyed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology admitted to an eye injury that occurred at home or around the yard.
Always wear protective safety glasses whenever you put your eyes at risk. Prescription spectacles and contact lenses DO NOT offer sufficient protection. Safety glasses should be ANSI-approved and made of polycarbonate - which is 10 times stronger than other plastics - or another recommended material. You can wear most goggles over spectacles or contact lenses and prescription safety-goggles are also available.
Sunglasses: A Necessity, Not Just For Looks!
Protecting our eyes from the sun is just as important as protecting our skin. Our eyes are very sensitive to sunlight and excessive exposure can burn the surface of the eye, similar to sunburn. Eyes that are constantly exposed to the sun for long periods of time are more likely to develop cataracts, pterygiums (white growths on the white of the eye) and skin cancer around the eye lids.
Always wear sunglasses when outside, particularly when driving, during summer, near water, or in snow. Sunglasses should be labelled as blocking at least 99-100% of all UV light (also described as "UV absorption up to 400nm"). Slap on a wide-brimmed hat for even more protection.
Dry Eyes? Lubrication to the Rescue
Dry eyes are caused by a lack of adequate tear production. Late nights, sustained periods of time on electronic devices, certain occupations, pollen, pollution, aging, medical conditions such as diabetes, or certain medications, for example, antihistamines or diuretics can all contribute to dry eyes. Not all cases of dry eye syndrome are reversible. In some people, dry eye gets progressively worse with time, increasing the risk of complications such as eye infections and corneal scarring.
Most cases of dry eye can be managed successfully. For mild cases, eye lubricants (artificial tears) are an affordable, safe and easy treatment. Many brands are available without a prescription; although the huge array of choices can be confusing. Talk to your eye professional or pharmacist about which product would suit you best based on ingredients, viscosity (thickness), preservative content, delivery system, and personal preference. Other treatments are available from your doctor or ophthalmologist, such as cyclosporine (Restasis, or Cequa) and lifitegrast (Xiidra).
Live Healthy. Eat healthy. Don't Smoke.
Our eyes need good nutrition and an unpolluted environment. To keep your eyes healthy:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to vision loss.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Don't smoke! Smoking increases your risk for age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Treat other conditions that may impact on vision (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or rheumatoid arthritis).
Finished: Healthy Vision Starts Here: 6 Tips That Look Good
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- Eye Exam. Mayo Clinic. 2022 http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/eye-exam/basics/why-its-done/prc-20014417
- Are You at Risk For Glaucoma? Glaucoma Research Foundation. Reviewed Oct 17, 2019. http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/are-you-at-risk-for-glaucoma.php
- Pagan-Duran B. Eye Injuries at Home. Reviewed 01 Mar 2016. American Academy of Opthamology. http://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/injuries-in-home
- Recommended Types of Sunglasses. American Academy of Opthamology. Updated Dec 12 , 2015. http://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/sunglasses-recommended-types
- Adler, R. Dry Eye Treatment: Getting Relief From Dry Eyes. All About Vision. 2022. http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/dryeye.htm
- Macular Degeneration Can Rob You of Sight: Know the Signs. Feb 6, 2022. HealthDay. https://www.drugs.com/news/macular-degeneration-can-rob-you-sight-know-signs-103354.html