The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 21 million Americans have vision problems. Another 80 million have eye diseases that can eventually lead to blindness1.
Without your vision, your quality of life would likely change dramatically. Fortunately, science knows a lot about what causes vision problems. By developing these simple habits, you can help protect your eye health.
Let’s take a look!
1) Wash your hands
In case you need another reason to wash your hands, here you go. Many common vision-related diseases can be spread by touching in or around the eye with an unwashed hand.
Pink eye, staph and even chlamydia and gonorrhea pass from hands to eyes. These bacterial and viral infections can cause long-term eyesight damage. To reduce your risk, develop a healthy hand washing routine. Also, never touch near your eyes for any reason if you haven’t just washed your hands.
2) Safely handle & store contacts
For the above reasons, storing and handling contacts safely is very important for healthy eyes2.
As a reminder:
- Avoid extended wear.
- Never reuse solution.
- Toss solution when it expires. A little waste is better than an eye infection.
- Never touch the tip of your solution bottle with hands or eye.
- Sterilize your case regularly.
- Never touch your contacts without washing your hands.
- If your contact falls on the counter or floor, clean it thoroughly before using it. If possible, toss it.
- Keep your contact case and solution in a clean place, not out on the counter where it can be exposed to air-borne illness
3) Avoid risky cosmetic procedures
Your eyes are one of the single most important organs you have. Don’t risk your eye health by getting dangerous procedures like iris tattooing or unnecessary lid lifts. Even using cosmetic contacts that weren’t approved by your Optometrist can be risky and cause serious harm.
They simply aren’t worth the risk.
4) Wear eye protection
If you’ve been working around lawn equipment or power tools most of your life, it’s easy to get careless. You might think: nothing’s happened so far. But it only takes one time not wearing protective glasses for something to become lodged in your eye. Wear eye protection around projectile-flinging equipment every time. Eye protection can also include wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.
5) Eat eye-healthy foods
If you want to keep your vision for a lifetime, a healthy diet is the way to go. A complete diet consists of a variety of whole foods. Reduce your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, night-blindness and other eye problems with a balanced diet.
Some of vision-boosting foods include:
- Fish that are high in omega-3’s like salmon and tuna
- Leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens that contain lutein
- Eggs that contain protein and other important micro-nutrients
- Whole grains like barley and quinoa that contain B vitamins and help regulate blood sugar
- Bell peppers and citrus to get plenty of C
- Nuts & Seeds that contain Omega 3, protein and others eye-healthy nutrients
Additional information surrounding eye-healthy foods can be found here.
Exercise helps reduce stress, regulate blood sugar and increase blood flow. All of these are great for staying fit and for maintaining healthy eyes. Get your heart-rate up several times a week and get some exercise every day to keep your eyes healthy.
7) Manage blood sugar, cholesterol & blood pressure
Uncontrolled blood sugar, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can reduce the efficiency of your circulatory system. If your eyes can’t get proper blood flow, vision health will suffer. Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or blurry vision may result.
Proper diet and exercise along with seeing your doctor will help you keep these risk factors managed.
8) Rest your eyes
If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen. Vision is a “use it or lose it” sense. If you’re not using your distance vision, while overusing your near vision, you make develop near-sightedness and eye strain. In addition, devices emit a particularly harmful light called blue light.
Take regular breaks. Look away from the computer as much as you can. Go for a walk to increase blood flow.
9) Stop smoking
Smoking increases your risk of vision loss as you age. You may not even feel it anymore, but the smoke is constantly irritating and inflaming your eyes. Eventually, they’ll say enough is enough and your eyesight will decline. Even if you’ve tried before, try again for your health.
10) See an eye health professional
Regularly see your optometrist. They’ll be able to identify issues early and can advise you about lifestyle changes to help you keep your sight longer. You only get one set of eyes. Keep them healthy with these healthy habits.