Make your eye health a priority with these 6 tips
Taking care of your eyes is an integral part of your overall health. In a survey conducted by Stats Canada, Canadians self-reported eye health improved from 2000 to 2020. So the good news is that eye health is improving in Canada.
Maintaining your eye health is an important part of healthy aging. Health and independence are key factors to living a long and happy life. When you have vision loss or vision impairment, it can impact a range of physical and psychological aspects of life as an older adult—from loss of independence, to mental health issues, to financial hardship and limited social interactions.
You can work towards keeping your eyes healthy at any age. Here are six tips to help you reduce your risk of developing eye disease.
Protect your eyes from the sun
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can harm your eye health. Exposure to sunlight is associated with a higher risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Protecting your eyes from the sun can help you get the benefits of the sun—hello, vitamin D! —without risking your eye health. Here are four ways you can keep your eyes safe in the sun:
- Wear sunglasses with UV-protective lenses.
- Add a hat with a visor or brim when you are outside.
- Limit the amount of time you spend in the sun.
- Avoid peak sunlight hours (11 am to 3 pm).
We all know that smoking significantly impacts your overall health and wellness. And your eyesight is no different—smokers are at a higher risk of many vision conditions, including AMD, cataracts, transient ischemic attack (TIA), Grave’s Disease, and uveitis. Because of all these eye conditions, smoking is one of the biggest preventable causes of blindness. Quitting smoking is an effective way to try to prevent all of these conditions.
Start moving your body
What can’t exercise help in our bodies? You can add eye health to this list! While there are many ways that exercise improves our overall health, new research out of the University of Waterloo has proven that physical activity can immediately impact your eye health.
Researchers found that aerobic exercise results in a significant increase in tear secretion and tear film stability. What does this mean? Exercise helps you relieve dry, itchy eyes! Tear film keeps your eyes hydrated and protected from infection-causing irritants like dust and dirt. You may experience eye symptoms like itchiness, stinging, or burning sensations when it becomes unstable. But exercising regularly can help keep your tear film stable.
Like the rest of your body, your eyes benefit from a balanced diet. But did you know some foods are especially good for your eyesight?
- Lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C are all nutrients that help your eyes stay sharp—so next time you see an orange bell pepper, consider taking a bite!
- Kiwi has the highest vitamin C source and is a fantastic eye food.
- Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration—fish is an excellent source of omega-3s, but it can also be found in nuts, oil and soy products.
Always remember eye safety
Whether playing sports or working with power tools, protect your eyes with Canadian Standards Association-approved safety glasses or goggles.
Get your eyes checked regularly
Easily recognized symptoms do not necessarily accompany vision and ocular health concerns. Because of this, it is crucial to attend your regular eye appointments. Early detection can ensure that you can promptly diagnose and treat eye conditions if they arise.
According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, this is how often you should visit your optometrist:
- Infants and toddlers should undergo their first eye exam between 6 and 9 months.
- Preschool children should undergo at least one eye exam between 2 and 5 years old.
- School age children aged 6 to 19 years should undergo an eye examination annually.
- Adults aged 20 to 39 should undergo an eye examination every 2 to 3 years.
- Adults aged 40 to 64 should undergo an eye examination every two years.
- Adults aged 65 years or older should undergo an eye examination annually.
These six steps can help you keep your eyes working their best for a long time. While there may be bumps in the road, ensuring you stick with step #6—get your eyes checked regularly—will give you the best chance of preventing and treating any eye issues that may develop.
Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.
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