Paying attention to your vision is important for your safety and overall health. People with vision problems are more likely than those with good vision to have diabetes, poor hearing, heart problems, high blood pressure, lower back pain and strokes, as well as an increased risk for falls, injury and depression.
An annual eye exam is the easiest and most cost-effective way to evaluate eye health, identify vision problems, and detect close to 30 chronic health conditions. Although older adults tend to have more vision problems, many preschoolers may not see well either. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends vision screening for all children aged 3 to 5.
Here are several other ways to protect your vision:
- Know your family’s eye health history; some eye conditions are hereditary and require early intervention.
- Wear protective eyewear like safety glasses, goggles and shields when playing sports, doing home repairs or yardwork, or in the workplace if necessary.
- Eat healthy foods, including dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, trout and halibut.
- Get active. Being physically active can also lower your risk of health conditions that can cause eye health or vision problems — like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
- Quit smoking or never start. Smoking increases your risk of diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts — and it can harm the optic nerve.
- Wear sunglasses — even on cloudy days! Be sure to look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.
- Give your eyes a rest. Digital eye strain is a growing problem Try using the 20-20-20 rule throughout the day: every 20 minutes, look away from digital devices and focus about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds
- Always wash your hands before handling your contact lenses.