February 3, 2010

Vision and Eye Care Basics

Good vision and eye care starts with regular exams. It also includes daily vision and eye care basics as well as awareness of diet and overall health.

Have an eye exam at least every 2 years

Even if you think your vision is fine, you should still have regular eye exams. This lets trained eye doctors find eye health issues that can creep up with no warning signs. Some examples are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic eye disease. These types of problems need to be caught in an early stage.

People who wear contacts, those over 60, and those with eye disease or other risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes in their family history may need to have more frequent eye exams. Ask your doctor how often she needs to look at your eyes.

You should also see your doctor if you have any problem with your eyes. Examples are trouble seeing, eye pain, swelling or secretions, sensitivity to light, and seeing light flashes or dark floating spots.

Practice good vision and eye care

As well as regular eye exams, here are a few things you can do basis to help protect your vision and eye health.

1. Protect your eyes when needed.

At work, at play, even at rest, be sure that you protect your eyes with the right kind of eyewear.

For messy work at home or in your garden, and when eye protection is required for your work, always wear the right eyewear for the job. For instance, if you need to work near flying debris, choose eyewear with lenses made of polycarbonate plastic. This gives you 10 times the protection of other plastics.

Eyewear for outdoor leisure should suit the activity and protect you from the sun’s UV rays. It should block 99-100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation.

2. Clean and handle contact lenses correctly.

If you wear contacts, be sure you know the right way to touch and clean them. Always wash your hands well before you deal with your contacts.

Use only the cleaning solutions and drops your doctor has approved. Dispose of lenses and cases when and how your doctor advises.

3. Take steps to avoid eye strain.

If your eyes get tired when you focus on small details or while you work at a computer, be sure to take breaks from time to time. You may want to use an eye exercise such as the 20–20–20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something that is 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.

Along with breaks, it may help to adjust your light source or move your computer screen to reduce glare. Learn how to change your computer’s display settings as well. This can help make computer use easier on your eyes.

Keep the big picture in view

Eye health is a part of overall health. It is vital to know your family’s health history and any risk factors that may relate to eye health. Cataracts and macular degeneration are some health issues specific to your eyes. But high blood pressure, diabetes, and immune system disorders may affect your eyes as well. They just may not seem as obvious.

If you take meds, be sure you know of any side effects that could affect your sight. Report any problems you have to your doctor right away.

Get plenty of the nutrients that are vital to good health, too, as this can help keep your eyes well. Choose a diet that is rich in citrus fruits, bright colored veggies like carrots, dark leafy greens, fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as tuna, salmon, or halibut), and whole grains.

Maintaining a healthy weight is also crucial to good eye health. Those who are obese or even just overweight are at higher risk for conditions such as diabetes or glaucoma that can lead to loss of vision.

Learn about vision insurance.