As you get older, your risk for some eye diseases may increase. But there’s a lot you can do to keep your eyes healthy — and it all starts with taking care of your overall health. Set yourself up for a lifetime of seeing your best with these 8 tips!
1. Find an eye doctor you trust.
Many eye diseases don’t have any early symptoms, so you could have a problem and not know it. The good news is that an eye doctor can help you stay on top of your eye health! Find an eye doctor you trust by asking friends and family if they like their doctor. You can also check with your health insurance plan to find eye doctors near you.
2. Ask how often you need a dilated eye exam.
Getting a dilated eye exam is the single best thing you can do for your eye health. It’s the only way to find eye diseases early, when they’re easier to treat — and before they cause vision loss. Your eye doctor will decide how often you need an exam based on your risk for eye diseases. Ask your eye doctor what’s right for you.
3. Add more movement to your day.
Physical activity can lower your risk for health conditions that can affect your vision, like diabetes and high blood pressure. And bonus: it can help you feel your best. If you have trouble finding time for physical activity (normal!), try building it into other activities. Walk around while you’re on the phone, do push-ups or stretch while you watch TV, dance while you’re doing chores. Anything that gets your heart pumping counts!
4. Get your family talking… about eye health history!
Some eye diseases — like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration — can run in families. While it may not be the most exciting topic of conversation, talking about your family health history can help everyone stay healthy. The next time you’re chatting with relatives, ask if anyone knows about eye problems in your family. Be sure to share what you learn with your eye doctor to see if you need to take steps to lower your risk.
5. Step up your healthy eating game.
Eating healthy foods helps prevent health conditions — like diabetes or high blood pressure — that can put you at risk for eye problems. Eat right for your sight by adding more eye-healthy foods to your plate! Try dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens. And pick up some fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like halibut, salmon, and tuna.
6. Make a habit of wearing your sunglasses — even on cloudy days.
You know the sun’s UV rays can harm your skin, but did you know the same goes for your eyes? It’s true. But wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation can protect your eyes and lower your risk for cataracts. So be sure to add sunglasses to your must-have list before you leave the house. Sunglasses? Check! Healthy eyes? Check!
7. Stay on top of long-term health conditions — like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Diabetes and high blood pressure can increase your risk for some eye diseases, like glaucoma. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor about steps you can take to manage your condition and lower your risk of vision loss.
8. If you smoke, make a quit plan.
Quitting smoking is good for almost every part of your body, including your eyes! That’s right — kicking the habit will help lower your risk for eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts. Quitting smoking is hard, but it’s possible — and a quit plan can help. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support.
1“8 Things You Can Do Right Now to Protect Your Vision.” National Eye Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/healthy-vision/8-things-you-can-do-right-now-protect-your-vision.