The National Eye Institute created Healthy Vision Month to encourage and empower Americans to make eye health a priority by educating them about their vision. Healthy Vision Month takes place each May, and the National Eye Institute details specific steps that can help each person protect his or her vision (Source: NEI).
Take a look at these steps and give yourself a little self-evaluation on how you are caring for your eyes:
- Get a dilated eye exam –the best way to prevent eye disease and catch eye disorders early is to have a comprehensive eye exam on a regular basis. Dilation is important because it allows your eye care professional to examine the retina and the optic nerve, which is the only way to detect diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. These diseases often have no warning signs in the early stages.
- Live a healthy lifestyle—Daily choices have a cumulative effect on our eyesight. Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent elevated intraocular pressures (IOP). Smoking increases the risk of vision loss from cataracts and optic nerve damage. Managing chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes and multiple sclerosis can help reduce inflammation of the optic nerve and preserve vision. Eating healthy foods like dark leafy greens and omega-3 fatty acids greatly benefit eye health.
- Know your family history—Just like we inherit physical traits from our family members, we can also inherit eye diseases. Awareness of family conditions can help you and your doctor be looking for specific symptoms of eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
- Use appropriate eyewear—Keeping your eyes protected while on the job, playing sports or working at home can help prevent eye injury. Sunglasses can help protect against UV damage which can cause cataracts, macular degeneration and pterygium (a tissue growth from the white of the eye onto the cornea, or clear part of the eye, that can cause astigmatism and scarring).
Make a commitment to your vision this May! Share this information with a friend, attend a program on eye health, or make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam. Taking care of your eyes now will ensure that your vision is clear and healthy in years to come!