Our vision is one of our most important senses, and yet many of us take for granted being able to see clearly on a day-to-day basis. Luckily, most of us will have most of our vision for our entire lives, but problems that threaten our ability to see can crop up as we age. Here are some simple things we can do to take care of our eyes and protect our vision.
- Don’t touch your eyes. Keep your hands away from your eyes as much as possible – don’t rub your eyes when you’re tired or frustrated. If you need to touch your eyes, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water beforehand.
- Let only sterile things come into contact with your eyes. Contact lense wearers should use disposable, daily-wear lenses rather than reusable lenses, use them only as directed.
- Wear goggles when appropriate. Whenever swimming, wear swim goggles to protect your eyes, even in fresh water, but especially in chlorinated water. Always wear goggles when using tools, chemical fumes or machinery. If you work around chemical fumes, make sure there is an eyewash station close by in case of emergencies.
- Use computer devices carefully. Doctors aren’t yet sure what the long-term effects of daily screen viewing will be over the entire lifespan, but they do suggest a few tips to prevent eyestrain. LCD monitors are easier on the eyes than CRTs. Doctors also suggest that people not get too close to screens of laptops, tablets and smartphones.
- See an eye doctor at least twice per year. Eye doctors can track changes in your vision, as well as detect abnormalities in the retinas and lenses of the eyeball. If your eyes are reddened and itchy and the issue is not resolved with over-the-counter eye drops, make sure you see a doctor to eliminate the possibility of an eye infection. Make sure your eye doctor knows about your family’s history of eye conditions, such as cataracts, retina issues or glaucoma. See an eye doctor immediately if you develop sudden changes in your vision, such as floaters, flashes of light, swelling, or pain.
- Be careful of bright light. Of course, you shouldn’t look into bright lights, whether it’s sunlight or artificial light. You should also invest in a pair of sunglasses that are polarized, which filter out all damaging wavelengths of light from your eyes.
- Be careful of dim light too. It’s so common to hear that we should be careful of bright light, that it’s rarely mentioned that lack of light can be straining to your eyes as well. If you’re looking for something in darkness, use a flashlight if you can’t turn on a larger light source.
- See your general practitioner at least once per year. A routine physical can alert you to conditions like diabetes that can affect your vision down the road.
- If you smoke, stop. Smokers are at much higher risk for macular degeneration, cataracts, and damage to the optic nerve.