1. Schedule yearly comprehensive eye examinations

Eye care should begin early in life. Parents can bring infants 6 to 12 months of age to their local optometrist for a thorough assessment in order to get a start on a lifetime of good vision. Under the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit of the Affordable Care Act, millions of children now have access to yearly comprehensive eye examinations and follow-up care and treatment including eyeglasses. Children may not tell you they're having eyesight issues, or even realize it. They assume that everyone sees the same way they do.

2. Protect against UV rays

Long-term exposure to the sun poses significant risk to your eyes, increasing your risk for certain eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Sunglasses aren’t just for summer. It’s extremely important to wear them no matter what the season as UVA and UVB rays reach the eyes directly from the sun or through reflections from surrounding environments such as snow, water, sand or even concrete.

3. Give your eyes a break from digital device use

Most Americans, including children, spend at least seven hours or more a day using computers or other digital devices such as tablets and smart phones. This constant eye activity increases the risk for dry eye, eyestrain, headaches and fatigue. The AOA recommends that people practice the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away. 

4. Eat your greens

As part of a healthy diet, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day—particularly leafy greens such as spinach and kale. Nutrients such as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E and the mineral zinc, help protect eyesight and promote eye health. 

5. Practice safe wear and care of contact lenses

More than 40 million Americans use contact lenses to improve vision. While some adhere to the medical guidelines for wearing contacts, many are breaking the rules and putting their vision at risk. Follow your doctor of optometry’s recommendations for appropriate wear and replacement to avoid problems such as blurred vision, red or irritated eyes, eye pain, or more serious conditions in which the cornea becomes inflamed (keratitis) or infected (corneal ulcers). An annual comprehensive eye examination with your doctor of optometry is crucial to maintain eye health for contact lens wearers.