by Chelsea Hollier, O.D.
May is Healthy Vision Month! Routine eye exams can help your eye doctor prevent, diagnose, and treat vision problems and eye disease in children and adults. In addition, the National Eye Institute recommends several ways to maintain healthy vision.
1. Get an annual dilated eye exam. Having your annual eye exam done allows you to stay current on your glasses and contact lens prescriptions. Your eye doctor can detect eye disease and vision problems by dilating your eyes. Many eye diseases don’t have symptoms in their early stages but can be seen during dilated eye exams. The eye is the only place in the body blood vessels and nerves can be viewed directly, so having your eyes dilated, in some circumstances, can also reveal certain systemic diseases.
2. Know your family’s vision history. Many eye conditions (including macular degeneration, glaucoma, corneal dystrophies, keratoconus, etc.) can be hereditary. Genetics also plays a role in some eye diseases that are the leading causes of blindness, so knowing your family’s ocular history allows for an even more thorough eye exam.
3. Maintain contact lens hygiene. Maintaining contact lens hygiene can prevent eye infections. There are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to contact lens hygiene:
· Wash your hands before putting contact lenses in or taking them out.
· Replace your contact lens case every 1-3 months and replace your lenses based on your doctor’s recommended wearing schedule.
· Use fresh solution to clean and store contacts
· “Top off” the solution in your contact lens case.
· Wear contacts while swimming or showering.
· Share contacts with friends or family
4. Wear sunglasses outside. Ultraviolet (UV) rays exposure has been proven to be a cause of cataracts and macular degeneration. Specific lenses and sunglasses can protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays; look for glasses that show the UVA/UVB protection levels. Your sunglasses should protect your eyes from 99% of UVA and UVB rays.
5. Live a healthy lifestyle. Some vision problems can be caused by systemic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Eat right to protect your sight! Green leafy vegetables and foods high in omega 3s such as tuna and salmon can benefit your eyes. Abstain from smoking, as tobacco products create a higher risk of developing cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration.
6. Give your eyes a break. Today, most people use computers and digital devices for work, school, and everyday life. Long periods of time on phones, computers, and tablets can cause eye fatigue, dry eye, and headaches. We tend to blink less often when using electronic devices, causing dry eye syndrome. Making it a habit of blinking more often and using over-the-counter lubricating drops while using the computer can prevent and relieve dry eye symptoms. Don’t forget to follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest while on the computer.
In addition to getting routine exams, visit your eye care professional if you have:
- Sudden decreased vision
- Eye pain
- Drainage or redness of the eye
- Double vision
- Floaters (tiny specks that appear to float in your vision)
At Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, we can help protect your vision! Call us at 800-282-3937 to schedule your next exam or visit us online at EYESFL.COM.
Bio: Dr. Chelsea Hollier is a board-certified optometrist who sees patients at the Winter Haven location for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida. She specializes in primary care optometry and is currently accepting new patients.
This column is sponsored by Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFHN or of its advertisers.