Follow these six common-sense tips for the overall health of your eyes.
1. Get Regular Eye Check Ups
- Get your eyes checked every one to two years to make sure you don’t have any eye diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration.
- Allow your eye doctor to check that your glasses and contact lenses are the correct prescription. Bring any glasses you currently use. If you wear contacts, wear them to your appointment and bring along your last written contact prescription or your contact lens packaging.
- If you suffer from any medical conditions, let your eye doctor know. Many systemic diseases can also affect the health of your eyes, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, etc.
2. Practice Good Contact Lens Habits
- Wash your hands before handling contacts.
- Replace contacts as recommended by your eye doctor (every day, two weeks, month, or quarter). Extending the life of your contacts can lead to decreased comfort and breathability, as well as corneal problems.
- Avoid sleeping in contacts, unless approved by your eye doctor, in which case you will be fit FDA-approved extended wear contacts.
- Clean your contacts daily using solution with disinfecting properties to kill harmful bacteria. Gently rub your contacts with disinfecting solution before storing them in their case, even if the bottle says “No Rub” on it. Saline solution DOES NOT disinfect. Look for multi-purpose solutions that clean, disinfect, and rinse.
- Rinse your contact lens case with warm water daily and let it air dry with the caps off to avoid harboring bacteria that breeds in moist environment. Replace your contact lens case every 3-6 months.
- Avoid using old contacts or old solutions.
- Get your contact lenses checked every year during your eye exams to make sure they fit properly, allow sufficient oxygen transmission to the cornea, and are the correct prescription.
3. Practice Good Hygiene
- Avoid touching your eyes before washing your hands to decrease transmission of viruses or bacteria that lead to conjunctivitis (pink eye).
- Wash your hands after shaking hands with people, sharing keyboards, sharing exercise equipment, or touching any surfaces in public spaces.
- Never share towels, pillows, or linens with someone who has conjunctivitis.
- If you have conjunctivitis, stay home from work or school until it clears! Frequently wash your hands to prevent transmission to those around you.
- Wash your face daily with a gentle soap, especially around your eyes.
4. Wear UV Sun Protection
- Protect those peepers from the sun! Constant sun exposure can lead to early cataract development, cancers of the eye, and macular degeneration.
- Ask your eye doctor about special lens materials, coatings, and frames that can maximize your protection from the damaging effects of the sun.
- Wear a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses whenever you are outdoors.
- Don’t let the fog fool you! Even on cloudy, foggy days UV rays can penetrate your eyes and have damaging effects. Always wear your sunglasses when you are outside or riding in your car.
5. Wear Safety Goggles During Recreation/Sports
- Having proper equipment for sports or recreation includes wearing protective eye gear. The sports at highest risk for injuries leading to blindness are those that involve balls, rackets, or sticks.
- Discuss with your eye doctor any sports or hobbies you have so that he or she can give recommendations on how to protect your eyes. More than 90 percent of all eye injuries can be avoided using the correct protective eyewear.
6. Live a Healthy Lifestyle
- Make healthy food choices by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low in saturated fats. Choose fruits and vegetables that are a good source of vitamin A, C, and E, which are anti-oxidants that can lower the risks of certain eye diseases. Carrots, broccoli, spinach, papaya, avocados, and berries are a few good sources of anti-oxidants. Eat lean meats that are low in saturated fats, such as fish and poultry. Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, vital to the preservation of vision as people mature.
- A healthy heart yields healthy eyes! Diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure can increase the risk for glaucoma and other eye diseases that can impact your vision. Exercise regularly to minimize the risk for developing these diseases.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking increases your risk of developing macular degeneration in your lifetime by up to 30 percent. This is the most common disease in the US that can lead to preventable blindness. If you currently smoke, quit now and reduce your risk.