It is estimated that half of Americans have poor eyesight. While poor eyesight is often a matter of genetics, it is still important that you take steps year-round to keep your eyes their healthiest. March is Save Your Vision Month, and we are paying special attention to a few ways that you can keep your eyesight healthy. Protection and prevention are your best defenses against poor eyesight. Here are five ways you can take care of your eyes.
1. Get Plenty of Vitamin C, Omega-3s, and Zinc
Vitamin C helps to protect your eyes against damaging UV-rays. Eat fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C, like strawberries, citrus fruits, and broccoli.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help to lower your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Omega-3s can be found in oily fish, like tuna or salmon, or in a fish oil supplement.
Zinc deficiency can lead to poor night vision, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Eat lean red meats, eggs, and nuts for good sources of zinc.
2. Wear Sunglasses
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Exposure to dangerous UV-rays from the sun raises your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. When shopping for sunglasses, always make sure that you buy a pair that offers no less than 99% protection against UVA and UVB rays. If you wear contact lenses, buy contacts that offer UV protection, and wear your sunglasses with them.
3. Drink a Little Caffeine
Just two servings of caffeine a day is a good way to protect your eyes from dry eye. Small amounts of caffeine help your body to produce tears and keep your eyes moist. Remember to consume your caffeine in moderation, and do not drink caffeinated drinks if your doctor has advised you not to, based on certain health conditions. High levels of caffeine can actually cause your eyes to dry out and become irritated, so it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
4. Give Your Eyes a Break
When you are reading, make sure that whatever you are reading is at least an arm’s distance away. When working in front of a computer screen, rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This exercise is called the 20-20-20 rule. When we are reading or staring, we do not blink as often as usual, so make sure that you blink while looking at a book or a computer screen. Blinking is how new tears are brought to the surface, which helps to keep your eyes moist.
5. Get Regular Eye Exams
The best way to prevent problems with any part of your body is to visit a doctor on a regular basis and get a check-up. Adults over the age of 40 should see their doctor every year for an eye exam. An eye doctor can detect age-related eye conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma early on, and therefore help you to treat those conditions from the beginning. Early treatment can prevent complications from ocular conditions and it can keep those conditions from worsening.