Most Americans consider vision the most important of the five senses; it’s difficult to imagine day-to-day life without it. Even so, many people put their eye health and vision at risk by not scheduling regular eye exams.
1. Give ‘em a break
When using digital devices or doing near work, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away. Ongoing technology use may lead to a temporary yet uncomfortable condition called digital eye strain.
2. Protect UV rays
UV protection is needed all year long to protect your eyes from damage. Remember to wear your sunglasses when outdoors, and be sure they block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
3. Eat rich
Certain nutrients such as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, and omega-3 essential fatty acids, can be beneficial for your eyes. Think: leafy green vegetables and certain varieties of fish for starters (not just carrots).
4. Care for contacts
Did you know all contact lenses are classified as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and require a prescription? Visit your optometrist to see if you are a candidate for contact lenses and always follow your doctor’s recommendations for contact lens wear and replacement to avoid serious problems.
5. Schedule annual exams
Despite catchy claims, there is truly no app for that. While a variety of new mobile applications claim to evaluate vision or the fit of eyeglasses, these apps often give inaccurate or misleading information, and misinformed consumers end up delaying essential, sight-saving treatment. An appointment with your doctor of optometry should be on your calendar every year.
Comprehensive, in-person eye exams are one of the most important, preventive ways to accurately assess eye health, diagnose an eye disorder or disease, and determine if you need corrective lenses.
Steven A. Loomis, O.D., Immediate Past President, American Optometric Association, [email protected]