tips for healthy eyes

New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Eyes

In General Optical Health by Anthony Farah, M.D.

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It’s a new year, and if you’re like most people, you’ve probably made some resolutions to make 2019 a year that’s a little happier, healthier, or more productive. Eye health isn’t a common resolution, but considering how you can take care of your vision a little better this year will pay off with healthier eyes in your future. Here are some suggestions to keep your eyes happy this year:

Reduce the Amount of Time You Keep Your Contacts In

Contact lens technology has gotten better over the past few years. Contacts are thinner, more microbe resistant, and more comfortable than ever — but they can still be hard on the eyes. The simple truth is that the human eye isn’t meant to have a foreign object in it constantly. Extended contact lens wear means you’re more likely to get dry eye and infections, develop allergic reactions to protein buildup on your lenses, and less oxygen is getting to your eye.

The less you wear your contacts, the longer you’ll be able to wear contacts. The main reason people get LASIK in their 30’s is their eyes are no longer tolerating contacts. When contacts are worn for shorter periods of time, they get less gunk build up and the eyes don’t get as dry.

Schedule Your Annual Eye Exam

Yearly checkups ensure that you are wearing the proper vision correction and ensure that your eyes are healthy. The older you are the more important it is to check in with your eye doctor each year, and it’s absolutely critical if you are diabetic or have another condition that puts you at high risk for eye disorders. Diseases such as glaucoma are usually painless and one can lose quite a bit of peripheral vision prior to noticing any changes. Catching conditions early often makes them easier to treat.

Remember to Wear UV Protective Sunglasses

High-quality UV protection is an investment in the health of your eyes. UV damage can cause cataracts to occur at an earlier age and increase your risk of macular degeneration. It can also increase the risk of rare eye cancers. Consider a pair with dark lenses for sunny days and a pair with light lenses for light cloudy days. Sunglasses also keep wind off your eyes if you’re out being active, preventing irritation and dryness.

Remember to Remove Eye Makeup Before Going to Bed

Blepharitis is a common condition where a crusty buildup forms at the base of the lashes that impacts everyone, whether they wear makeup or not. However, leftover makeup can increase this buildup and the likelihood that glands get backed up, causing a sty. A warm washcloth on clean eyes can help loosen oil glands and prevent this buildup.

Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is great for your whole body, including your eyes. Smoking greatly increases the risk of macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of severe vision loss. It also increases your risk of cataracts. Smoke is brutal on the surface of the eye, leading to dryness, chronic irritation, and red eyes due to constant toxin exposure.

Reduce Screen Time

When you’re looking at your screen and focusing, you don’t blink as often, and your eyes dry out. Muscles in your eyes get exhausted from focusing, causing eye strain. Blue light also messes with your internal clock, altering your circadian rhythm and making it more difficult to get good sleep. Using your device’s dark mode and decrease its brightness at night can help, but you’re better off getting away from the screen altogether.

Improve Your Diet

Diet resolutions are some of the most common resolutions for many reasons — and your eyes can be one of them! What your mother told you was true. The vitamins in vegetables — especially bright vegetables like carrots and dark green leafy vegetables — offer beta carotene and antioxidants that are good for your retina. A diet rich in veggies will help keep your eyes healthy for the long haul! A well regarded National Eye Institute study showed that a specific mix of antioxidant vitamins and minerals improved long term outcomes of macular degeneration.  Taking a daily plant-based multivitamin and increasing daily intake of dark green leafy and bright colored veggies before a problem starts can be the best way to prevent a problem from ever occurring.

Wear Protective Eyewear

Protect your eyes if you’re doing anything involving chemicals, bungee cords, or working with power tools! Some of the worst eye injuries Drs. Cullom and Farah see are accidents when something metal breaks and ends up in a person’s eye. Snapping bungee cords is a shockingly common cause of eye injury that can lead to an incredible amount of damage, while strong chemicals such as oven cleaner and certain solvents cause irritation and can even burn the delicate eye tissue. A pair of goggles can literally save your eyes.

Small changes can make a huge difference in your ocular health. With these resolutions, 2019 can be the healthiest year for your eyes yet!

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