By Judith Whitehead – Contributing Writer
May is dedicated to practicing ways in keeping our eyes in good health.
Here are several ways prevention can help preserve our precious eyesight:
1. Regular comprehensive dilated eye exams: These are a first-and-foremost effort to insure there are no silent diseases affecting our eyes. When we are dilated, the pupils enlarge for a better view to the back of the eye, or retina, and give the eye doctor a chance to examine all structures in the back of the eye and not just a small window. Diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, high blood pressure, and diabetes can show themselves in the back of the eye and give early warning signs.
2. Family history: This plays an important part of an eye exam; it will tell the doctor if you are at higher risk for developing some eye diseases.
3. A healthy diet: Eating a well-balanced diet that includes dark, leafy vegetables such as kale, veggies including broccoli, and omega-3 rich foods like tuna and salmon are important to vision. Diabetic eye disease can significantly affect the eye health, so it is important to keep on top of blood sugars and weight control. Diabetes can cause bleeding and damage to eyesight by affecting the retina.
4. Rest your eyes: A simple way, especially if you are sitting at a desk and computer, is to take a few minutes every 20 minutes and look away from the screen for at least a 20-foot view to relieve eye strain. It's like exercising the eye muscles when you look away to relax them.
5. Wear sunglasses when spending time outside: This protects your eyes from Ultra Violet damage. UV exposure can cause cataracts and macular degeneration.
6. Don't smoke: Smoking can cause eye damage, accelerate cataract formation and affect the macula, as well as overall health. If you smoke, try to stop. There are many programs available, many are free for the taking to help you kick the habit.
7. Practice sports and workplace safety: Wearing glasses or goggles when protection warrants, and wash hands frequently during the day. Practice good hygiene when wearing contact lenses; replace and/or clean them regularly.
All these efforts will preserve your good eye health and protect you from developing eye problems in the future. Adults need to have an eye exam every few years; if you are having many health problems make sure you have an eye exam sooner rather than later. The eyes are the “window” into good health, literally.
Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.