Did you know that approximately 3.4 million Americans aged 40 years and older are either blind or visually impaired? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “8.2% of Americans with self-reported vision problems did not have health insurance. Only 4% of Americans without health insurance reported having optional vision insurance, compared with 58% of Americans with private health insurance, and 44% of Americans with public health insurance.”
These statistics show that not everyone can afford the luxury of refractive correction surgery and other eye treatments. However, there are simple steps that everyone can take to maintain 20/20 vision and prevent the occurrence of vision loss in the future.
Here is how you can safeguard your vision:
1. Avoid smoking
Tobacco smoking is directly linked to several health effects that target the eyes, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies conclude that smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to develop AMD than others who have never smoked a stick in their life. Aside from AMD, smokers are also at risk for developing cataracts.
2. Wear sunglasses
Do you notice how your eyes automatically squint when exposed to direct sunlight? It happens for a good reason. Direct sunlight accelerates the formation of cataracts. Sunglasses help by preventing retinal damage while protecting the delicate eyelid skin from developing wrinkles and cancerous growths on the eye. UV blocking sunglasses are excellent for deflecting the harmful rays of the sun. The next time you pick up a pair of sunnies, buy one that provides 100 percent UV protection.
3. Use proper sports eye protection
Each year, an estimated 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the United States, in which 90% could have been protected by using ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Sports such as hockey and baseball are among the leading activities that damage the eyes. Additionally, repair projects and chores like gardening and cleaning can expose your eyes to chemicals and other foreign objects.
4. Practice contact lens care
Are you aware that more than 30 million Americans wear contact lenses? If you are among them, it is vital to practice proper lens care to avoid eye infections. It is highly recommended to follow your ophthalmologist’s instructions regarding the appropriate care and use of contact lenses. Abuse, such as forgetting to take your contacts out before sleeping can result in drier, more infection-prone eyes. Using water or saliva, expired solutions, and disposable contact lenses beyond their wear can result in corneal ulcers, severe pain, and even loss of vision.
5. Be mindful of eye strain
Eye strain, eye fatigue, or asthenopia is an eye condition that manifests through nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, blurred vision, pain in or around the eyes, headache, and occasional double vision.
Almost every corporate job today requires staring at a computer screen from nine to five. If you are experiencing eye strain from working at a desktop, you can try following the 20-20-20 rule: Look away from your work desk every 20 minutes and stare at an object 20 feet away for twenty seconds. If eye strain persists, it can be a sign of several different ocular conditions, including dry eye or presbyopia. Make sure to see an ophthalmologist to determine why you are experiencing eye fatigue, and to receive proper treatment.
Eat this to Maintain Your Vision
We already know that carrots are an excellent source of eye-boosting nutrients. But too much of one thing can get boring. To fulfill your taste buds, let’s discuss other foods that not only taste great, but can maintain healthy vision and prevent age-related eye diseases.
Protein-packed eggs are a great way to kick-start your morning. While boosting your energy, eggs also provide nutrients such as vitamin E, lutein, and Omega-3 — all of which are essential for improved eyesight. A word of advice: Never settle for ordinary eggs. Opt for high quality, free-range brands to stock up on more nutrients.
Contrary to popular belief, corn is a fantastic source of lutein and zeaxanthin. In fact, cooking corn for a more extended period increases the amount of lutein and the antioxidant level per serving. Corn is delicious on its own, but it is also a wonderful addition to soups, burritos, casseroles, and several other dishes.
Berries are rich in antioxidants and contain a component called rhodopsin which helps accelerate cellular regeneration — vital for maintaining healthy eyes. Organic berries like blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries help strengthen the blood vessels and improve blood circulation throughout your body, including your eyes. Berries also help in keeping swollen and irritated eyes at bay, which enhances your vision.
Now, you may not have been a fan of broccoli growing up, but this green veggie offers a myriad of nutrients that benefit the eyes. Besides being packed with fiber, broccoli is especially high in vitamin C, which contains eye-boosting beta-carotene. Not only that, but broccoli is also rich in the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin. If you experience eye strains, eating broccoli can keep soreness and blurred vision at bay. The vegetable also reduces stress on the eyes, enabling them to perform better for more extended periods of time.
Kale is one of the most popular leafy greens today, often incorporated in salads, smoothies, and snacks. It is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and vitamins, which is already a good enough reason to eat it. Additionally, kale is also an excellent source of beta-carotene and contains both lutein and zeaxanthin.
A Word of Advice
Just because your eyes are working fine does not mean you should take them for granted, especially since we are constantly glued to bright computer and mobile screens. Good eyesight depends heavily on maintaining a good eye health regimen. This includes avoiding bad habits like smoking, wearing the right protective eyewear, and practicing an overall healthy lifestyle.
Find the Right Eye Care Provider
Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians all play a significant role in providing the eye care and treatment you need. Each professional has a different level of training and expertise. If you have an ocular condition, make sure that you are seeing the right provider. If not, remember to get annual eye examinations to maintain the excellent condition of your peepers.
If you don’t already have an eye doctor in Sun City, AZ — contact Arizona Retinal Specialists at 623-474-3937 (EYES). We are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care and maintenance, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate retinal surgery.