Just as you use sunscreen on a sunny day or an umbrella in the rain, your eyes need protection as well. An estimated 2.5 million eye injuries will occur this year, and as many as 90 percent will be avoidable. The best way to ensure that you aren’t part of that 2.5 million is to protect your eyes while playing sports, working, or even just enjoying your day.
While outside or driving, wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days and especially around water or snow. Be sure that your sunglasses protect against both UVA and UVB rays from the sun, and the bigger the lenses the better! Add a hat with a wide brim for even more protection.
If you play sports, invest in a pair of ANSI-approved goggles specific to your sport, and wear them every time you play or even practice. Goggles can protect against elbows, balls, and other flying objects that often come in contact with the face during sports activities. While sport-specific goggles may not provide complete protection all of the time, they often will significantly reduce the severity of any resulting injuries.
It is common knowledge that giving up smoking and getting plenty of exercise are good for you, but they are specifically good for your eyes. The lungs and cardiovascular system provide oxygen and nutrients through the blood to nourish the entire body.
Smoking and chewing tobacco, however, impair these functions, and over time, can lead to reduced blood flow to structures of the eye — increasing the risk for a number of eye diseases, particularly cataracts, which are a common cause of blindness.
Regular exercise is also crucial for eye health, as it reduces risks and complications for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Exercise allows oxygenated, nutrient rich blood to be pumped to all parts of the body, including the eyes. Proper blood flow to the eyes is necessary to delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in older Americans.
EAT, DRINK, AND HAVE HAPPY EYES
Just as exercise and other healthy habits are important, so are diet and hydration. The human body, including the eyes, requires a healthy, varied diet and plenty of water to function properly. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, particularly dark, leafy greens, and foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids and drink plenty of water every day.
When deciding what to eat, try eating a rainbow — eat fruits and vegetables with a variety of colors. Make a salad with spinach, strips of orange bell peppers, a handful of walnuts, and a sprinkling of cherry tomatoes. Incorporate flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, sardines, and salmon into your diet to increase your omega-3 fatty acids, thus supporting your eye health. Flax seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than most foods and taste great when sprinkled over your morning cereal or baked into a muffin.
SCHEDULE REGULAR EYE EXAMS
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your eye health is to schedule and attend regular eye examinations. Your Silverstein Eye Centers doctor will be able to monitor your eye health, adjust your glasses or contacts prescriptions, and provide treatment and guidance on a regular basis when you keep regular eye appointments. Of course, if you notice any vision or eye health changes between appointments, don’t hesitate to call right away.
To schedule your next eye examination, please call Silverstein Eye Centers today at (816) 358-3600.