There’s nothing more precious than the gift of sight, but oftentimes we neglect to take the necessary steps to preserve our vision. Just like any other part of the body, our eyes need routine check-ups and preventive care to keep them in the best shape possible. May is Healthy Vision Month, and the National Eye Institute is once again encouraging everyone to make their eye health a top priority.
There are several steps you can take to honor Healthy Vision Month and preserve your eyesight. If you haven’t already, take the opportunity to make these healthy changes during the month of May:
Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam
Do you remember the date of your last eye exam? If not, you might be due for one. Most experts recommend a complete eye exam every 1 to 3 years depending on your age, risk factors and whether you wear corrective lenses.
Even if your vision seems fine, you may find during an eye exam that your vision could be improved with corrective lenses. Your doctor will dilate your pupils during this exam to view your retina and search for any signs of eye damage. A dilated eye exam can detect the presence of eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration during early stages when no symptoms are present.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Leading a healthy lifestyle is good for the whole body, including the eyes. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep eyes healthy. Dark leafy greens and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have significant benefits for the eyes.
Maintain a healthy weight to prevent conditions that can affect eyesight. Some researchers believe that obesity is linked to glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (Source: Rebuild Your Vision).
If you smoke, make it your goal to stop. Research has shown that smoking increases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
You’ve got a great excuse to sport a cool pair of shades! Sunglasses protect your eyes from exposure to UV rays, which can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and pterygium. Purchase a quality pair of sunglasses that will block out 99 or 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
Brush up on your family history
Some eye conditions are hereditary, so it’s helpful to know your family’s eyesight history. Talk to your relatives about their eyesight to determine whether you may be at risk for any particular eye diseases. Discuss any concerns you have with your eye doctor (Source: National Eye Institute).