As we enter a new year and a new decade, it’s that time to reflect on the past year and think about the things we’d like to improve. That’s right, it’s time to start thinking about resolutions! The number one New Year’s resolution in America is to stay healthy and fit. That’s hardly a surprise. We all want to start the new year on the right foot and what better place to start than with your health? An even better place to start is with your eye health.
Our eyes are possibly the most neglected when it comes to health. The reason why is different for everyone, but often it’s because people think that if they can see clearly, then nothing is wrong. Unfortunately, many eye diseases show no signs or symptoms before they are too late to treat. Glaucoma is a good example. The first signs of glaucoma only appear in the late stages of the disease when the damage is irreversible.
Caring for your eyes is an important part of your overall health. Shake things up this New Year’s and skip the weight loss resolution. A few lifestyle changes and a little more awareness will go a long way when it comes to caring for your eyes this year (not just until February)!
Here are five ways you can kick start a year of healthy eyes!
1. Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam
The first thing you need to do is schedule an eye exam. As soon as the offices reopen after their holiday break, call and make an appointment!
An eye screening has its place in eye health. However, a screening will only detect refractive errors. Though these are important issues to detect, especially in young children, they don’t detect more serious diseases.
If you think you’re getting all the coverage you need from an eye screening, you’re not. A comprehensive eye exam doesn’t just examine the lens of the eye. A doctor, with the proper tools, will look into the eyes for any signs of damage or potential diseases.
If you were thinking of going another year without an eye exam, don’t! It won’t take more than half an hour out of your day and could save your vision in the future. Most eye diseases are preventable if they are detected early. Without regular eye exams, you risk developing serious eye conditions that may affect you for life.
Generally, you should be going to the eye doctor at least once a year if you’re between the ages of 18 and 60. Anyone below the age of 18 or above the age of 60 should be going to the eye doctor twice a year.
2. Know Your Family’s History
Unfortunately, the eyes are not well understood. They are possibly the most complex organ in the body. Tracing the roots of a disease and the exact causes can prove to be a difficult task. In some cases, it may even be impossible.
However, many eye diseases seem to have a strong link to genetics. For this reason, it is important that you know your family’s medical history; including any eye diseases or conditions.
Having all of your family’s eye health history means better protection for you. You doctor will be able to keep an eye on signs for diseases that you may be at a higher risk of developing.
If you have children, it is almost twice as important to have a full family eye health history. Your child’s eye doctor can then look for hereditary diseases and conditions in your child and prevent them or start treating them early.
3. Eat the Right Foods
If your New Year’s resolution was to lose weight and be healthier, then you’re already one step ahead. A big part of maintaining good vision is to eat a balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables are not only low in calories, but they’re also packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
Vision-boosting nutrients can be found in plenty of food from nuts to fish to fruit. As a rule of thumb, the brighter the vegetable or fruit, the better it is for your eyes.
Brightly colored fruits and veggies get their color from something called beta carotene. This helps your body absorb vitamin A, which is a crucial vitamin for the eyes. It is possibly the most important vitamin for maintaining clear and sharp vision.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, skip the junk food aisle. Instead, spend most of your time picking out some fresh produce!
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking is a dangerously addictive habit. Every year people die from lung cancer caused by years of smoking. Every year, we have that one friend that tries to quit.
Well, friend, this year you have to do it; for yourself, the people that love you, your lungs, and for your eyes.
Smoking has been linked to speeding up the progress of age-related diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. It has also been linked to optic nerve damage, which can cause blindness.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs. It slowly causes every part of you to deteriorate. Slap a patch on, chew some gum, do what you need to do. But whatever you do, don’t pick up another cigarette.
5. Take Some Time to Relax
No one’s New Year’s resolution has ever been to relax. I mean, that kind of defeats the whole purpose of a resolution. However, resting your eyes and giving your body a break will make you more productive in the long run.
It’s normal to feel guilty taking a break. It’s also normal to let yourself take a break. We aren’t talking about spending hours and hours in front of the TV when you’ve got a million other things to do. A 10-minute break, or microbreaks, here and there, will relax your body and your eyes.
Tired and fatigued eyes have been linked to unproductive workplaces and lead to diminished motivation. Listen to your body and take a break when you need to. Close your eyes and give your face a light massage. This will also stimulate the circulation in your eyes for sharper vision.
Don’t make the same New Year’s resolution as you did last year. Make it really count this year and take charge of your vision health with new eye-healthy habits.