March, our favorite month! While it generally means the end of a long, cold winter, we like it because it is also National Save Your Vision Month.
In honor of this month, Rebuild Your Vision has come up with seven ways to help you support healthy eyesight and save your vision from common problems. Of course, getting your eyes checked should be at the top of your to-do list, but here are seven more things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and your eyesight strong.
#1: Feed Your Eyes – They Will Thank You
As a nation, we are constantly reminded that better nutrition is vital to our health.
This holds true for your vision as well. One thing that almost all vision research seems to agree on is the need for more omega-3 in our diets.
While omega-3 can help protect your eyes from problems like cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma, it is also essential for good cardiovascular health.
Most doctors advise adding fish to your diet to ensure that you receive the omega-3 your body needs. However, fish is not the only source of omega-3 and for those people who really don’t care for the taste of fish, there are alternatives. Many types of nuts also contain omega-3.
#2: Try Vitamins to Improve Your Vision
For people with an extremely active lifestyle, the simplest answer to support good vision may be to add a supplement to your diet. You know who you are, you’re the person trying to work, raise kids, and take care of the house with not enough hours in the day.
Eye vitamins can improve your vision and help to prevent many of the common vision problems that can develop as we age.
#3: Practice Safe Computer Use
Our society has become so computer-oriented that we have excluded most other forms of information gathering.
Much of our work and play now consists of using a computer. While they may make our jobs and play more fun, they can also cause severe damage to our eyes.
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a common and growing problem. Symptoms of CVS include tired or sore eyes, dry and red eyes, headaches, blurring of vision, or slowness in changing the focus of your eyes. Left untreated, CVS can cause permanent vision damage.
The good news is there is one simple step that can help to combat CVS and save your vision. When working on a computer for over 10 minutes, take a vision break and look away from the screen for at least 10 seconds, focus on something that is at least 10 feet away from you. We call this the 10-10-10 rule.
If you’re at work, try not to focus on the clock; that will just make your day seem longer (and possibly increase your screen time, if you’re looking at the clock on your phone!).
#4: Protect Your Eyes During Dangerous Tasks
The University of Wisconsin’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences estimates that every day at work approximately 2,000 eye injuries occur. Some interesting facts include:
- Construction workers have one of the highest eye-injury rates.
- Even “minor” eye injuries can cause life-long vision problems and suffering: a simple scratch from sawdust, cement, or drywall can cause corneal erosion that is recurrently painful.
- Particles of dust, metal, wood, drywall, and the like are the most common source of eye injury to carpenters.
- The rebounding of the ordinary nail is one of the most common causes of vision loss in construction workers.
Construction workers are not the only ones at risk of eye injuries on the job. Many factory workers are also injured because of failure to use the eye protection recommended for their job.
Even though the goggles and safety glasses may be sweaty and uncomfortable to wear, is it worth risking your vision?
#5: Wear Sunglasses – In the Summer and Winter
Sunglasses are not just an accessory for your outfit; they serve a very important role in protecting your eye health. Sunglasses protect our eyes by limiting the amount of light that reaches them.
They block most of the ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Ultraviolet rays can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts, and skin cancer of the eyelids.
Forget about a fashion statement and get sunglasses that protect from UVA and UVB light. Not all sunglasses are created equal. Sunglasses without special coatings that protect from UV light may actually cause more harm to your eyes because you’ll think you’re protected from the sun, so you’ll be less careful.
Don’t put the sunglasses away in the winter! Many people only think of wearing sunglasses in the warm summer months, but winter snow reflects the sunlight back up at you. This means that you are exposed twice to the sunlight. Keep the sunglasses handy year-round and protect your eyesight so that you can continue to enjoy the views.
#6: Use Special Care When Applying Eye Makeup
Who knew that eye makeup could be so dangerous?
Pink eye, corneal damage, or possibly something worse can all be avoided by following the simple steps below:
- Don’t apply makeup in a moving vehicle. It may seem like you’re saving time, but if you hit a bump, come to a sudden stop, or are hit by another vehicle, you risk injuring your eye. A mascara wand or eye pencil (or even a fingernail) can scratch the cornea, causing an infection that could lead to a potentially blinding corneal ulcer.
- Keep eyeliner pencils sharpened so that the rough wood casing won’t scratch the eye or eyelid.
- Make sure that any instrument (for example, brushes, wands, eyelash curlers) you place near the eye area is clean.
- Wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics. Bacteria on your hands could be transferred to your eyes, causing an infection.
- Never use an old applicator in a fresh cosmetic product. The applicator will transfer bacteria to the new product.
- Don’t use old eye cosmetics. Replace cosmetics every six months to avoid excess contamination with bacteria.
- After any eye infection, such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye), buy fresh eye makeup.
- Don’t borrow makeup from friends.
#7: Stop Smoking
Smoking is as dangerous to your eyes as it is to the rest of your body. Smoking has been found to be a risk factor in the following eye conditions:
- Glaucoma: Smoking causes shrinkage or constriction of blood vessels, which is directly linked to rising inner eye pressure that can lead to glaucoma and accompanying optic nerve damage.
- Diabetic retinopathy: While smoking may not directly cause diabetic retinopathy, most experts agree that quitting smoking helps stop the progression of the disease.
- Cataracts: There is conclusive evidence that smoking causes nuclear cataracts. According to the CDC, you are two to three times more likely to develop cataracts if you smoke.
- Graves’ ophthalmopathy: This condition, often associated with thyroid disease, disrupts muscle control of the eye; smoking has been shown to increase the risk of developing thyroid disease.
- Age-related macular degeneration: The CDC also claims that smoking doubles your chances of developing AMD.
Getting Started with These Helpful Tips for Save Your Vision Month
These are just a few things you could be doing to help save your vision – not only this month but on a regular basis. A healthier diet and a little more eye care can greatly slow the progression of aging vision and some of the most common vision problems. Putting in a little effort to make these changes will go a long way!