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Did you know May is healthy vision month? It’s an annual event organized by the National Eye Institute (NEI) to help educate the public and help promote awareness of eye health issues.

Because so many serious eye conditions present with little to no warning, it’s important to do everything you can to keep your eyes healthy. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of your eye health:

1. Schedule an annual eye exam.

This is the single most important step you can take to maintaining your eyesight. There are often no early warning signs for the very conditions that are most detrimental to your sight, and often, only a comprehensive eye exam will catch them before you experience vision loss or other side effects.

Conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, among others, are all treatable with early diagnosis … but if you skip your annual eye exam, you may miss your chance for effective treatments to prevent any damage.

The key here is a COMPREHENSIVE eye exam. A simple vision test is not the same thing. With a thorough examination, an ophthalmologist will dilate your eyes and study the interior of your eye using special tools. Only by viewing the back of your eyes will he or she be able to find any signs of disease.

2. Eat properly.

It probably goes without saying that you should eat your veggies! After all, everyone knows they’re good for you, and they’re delicious! However, certain foods are particularly beneficial, and if you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, it’s important to do everything you can to protect them … and that means making the right choices at dinner time!

Healthy foods for eyesight

Carrots are good for your eyesight, as are leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale. You should also eat plenty of seafood like salmon and tuna for their omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Quit Smoking.

This one is pretty obvious, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it … seriously folks, stop smoking as soon as possible. There are lots of products available to help you quit, and there’s no better way to immediately improve your overall health and well-being than to extinguish those cigarettes once and for all.

Did you know smoking has been linked to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage? And if that’s not enough to make you want to quit, we should mention that these conditions can all cause blindness.

4. Wear Protective Eyewear and Sunglasses.

Whether you’re outside playing sports, laying by a pool this summer, or driving your car, you should always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging UV rays. If possible, get a pair with 99-100% protection against UVA and UVB radiation.

Woman wearing sunglasses

And inside or out, you should always cover your eyes with protective eyewear when working with tools, playing sports, or in environments that are especially dusty or windy. Eye injuries are easily preventable and can be just as damaging to your vision as disease.

5. Know Your Genes.

If you haven’t researched your family history, make some calls! Eye diseases are frequently inherited conditions, and it’s important to learn as much as you can about your family’s eye care experiences. With enough information, you and your doctor can help determine your risks for certain conditions and prepare a treatment plan accordingly.

6. Follow the 20/20/20 Rule.

When using electronic devices, whether it’s a mobile phone, computer screen or tablet, please be mindful of eyestrain. Your best bet is to follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This simple trick can help prevent computer vision syndrome, eye fatigue, and even dry eye, and it couldn’t be easier!

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