With just a few days left of Healthy Vision Month (sponsored by the National Eye Institute), now is a great time to remind you about the importance of protecting and preserving one of your most important senses: your sight. So why dedicate a whole month to talking about eye health? Our country is currently crawling with millions of Americans who have undetected, untreated eye-related illnesses. Simply put, eye disease is tricky because the symptoms don’t become apparently until they have progressed far beyond the early stages. Below you’ll find some tips on how to best ensure you have healthy vision that lasts a lifetime.
Schedule a comprehensive eye exam. A comprehensive eye exam should include dilated fundus testing. Your optometrist will place drops in your eyes which dilate the eyes and allow them to check for eye disease. This exam can find abnormalities at an early and treatable stage.
Practice eye safety. Wear eye protection when playing sports, doing activities around the house, or working around hazardous materials. Keep in mind that contacts don’t protect your eyes from exposure to chemicals, metal and other potentially harmful elements. Invest in a pair of goggles that fit your face well, available at some sporting goods stores, hardware stores and vision centers.
Know your family’s eye health history. If you have a family history for macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye-related disease, chances are you have an increased risk of getting the same disease. If you fall into this category, make sure you schedule comprehensive eye exams regularly.
Wash your hands and contacts properly. This will help prevent eye infection as well as accidental exposure to harmful materials.
Wear sunglasses. This will best protect your eyes from UV-rays.
Don’t smoke. We all know smoking hurts our whole body, but don’t discount the effect it has on our eyes. Tobacco increases your risk for macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage.
Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases an individual’s risk for type II diabetes and subsequent vision complications as well. Diabetic retinopathy can severely damage your eyesight and potentially cause blindness. As with many eye diseases, having annual eye exams will ensure a professional can detect and treat abnormalities early.
For more information on Healthy Vision Month and protecting your vision, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/hvm/about/
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