Monitoring Your Health: Tips for Healthy Eyes

Monitoring your health is important to every day living but it’s especially important for your eyes. Things you eat, habits you partake in, as well as, genetic factors all play a part in your vision. Conversely your eyes can reveal many things about your overall health as well. Let’s look at some of the bigger issues that play a part in general health and how you can better your chances of a long and healthy life. Your eyes will thank you.

Diet and Exercise

The American Macular Degeneration Foundation, WebMD, and The National Eye Institute all agree that a healthy diet and regular exercise are both keys to good eye health.  A healthy diet includes eating foods rich in green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens. It also means eating citrus fruit including oranges and natural fruit juices. Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least once or twice a week is also recommended. This includes salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and albacore tuna. It is also suggested to eat eggs, nuts, beans, and other nonmeat protein sources. Knowing what to eat is just as important in knowing what not to eat. Avoiding overly processed snack foods including chips, cake, cookies, soft drinks, and candy is also important for good eye health as suggested by a 2001 study.

Exercise is another important factor in good overall eye health. Walking is an easy exercise that can help you stay active and fit. This Multifunction Talking Pedometer is an inexpensive and easy way to keep track of your steps and how long you walk.  Being physically active helps you stay healthy. It can also lower your risk of health conditions that can cause eye health or vision problems — like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Checking your blood pressure on a regular basis is also important and easy with this Talking Bilingual Premium Digital Blood Pressure Arm Monitor.

Habits; the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good habits to practice include wearing sunglasses and a hat with a visor whenever in bright sunlight to protect your eyes from potentially harmful ultra-violet (UV) light and blue light. It’s also important to wear safety goggles for dangerous jobs, some sports, or anywhere airborne particles risk getting into your eyes.

Bad habits including spending too much time on the computer or other electronic device and not taking proper care of your corrective lenses. Move the screen so your eyes are level with the top of the monitor. That lets you look slightly down at the screen. Choose a comfortable, supportive chair. Position it so that your feet are flat on the floor. Rest your eyes every 20 minutes. Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Get up at least every 2 hours and take a 15-minute break. Make sure your glasses or contacts prescription is up to date and good for looking at a computer screen. If you wear contacts, take steps to prevent eye infections including always washing your hands before you put your contact lenses in or taking them out. Be sure to disinfect your contact lenses and replace them regularly.

Ugly habits include smoking and never going to an eye doctor. Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs it can hurt your eyes, too. Smoking increases your risk of diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts. If you’re ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support. You can also check out the resources on Smokefree.gov.

Genetic Risk Factors

The main ways to know about genetic risk factors are through a detailed family history and/or routine doctor appointment. It is important to get a regular dilated eye exam. If you have no risk factors it may be possible to go several years in between eye exams but if you’re over the age of 60, African American and over the age of 40, or have a family history of glaucoma (or other eye diseases) it’s imperative that you go every 1 to 2 years.

The National Eye Institute states that getting older increases your risk of some eye diseases. You might also have a higher risk of some eye diseases if you are overweight or obese, have a family history of eye diseases, or are African American, Hispanic, or Native American. Other health conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, can also increase your risk of some eye diseases. For example, people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy — an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness. Talk with your family members to find out if they’ve had any eye problems. Some eye diseases and conditions run in families, like age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma.

It’s much easier to prevent or ease severity of any potential issues if they are caught before they have time to become bigger issues. Even if your eyes feel healthy, you could have a problem and not know it. That’s because many eye diseases don’t have any symptoms or warning signs.

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