Save Your Vision Month: 5 Ways to Preserve Your Vision for a Lifetime
March is “Save Your Vision” month, so we’re sharing the 5 most important things you can do to preserve your vision for a lifetime.
1. Don’t skip your annual eye exam. The importance of an annual (60 and over) or biannual (under age 60) eye examination cannot be overemphasized. The sophistication of this eye exam also must be considered. We have come a long way from the old days of “is it better one or better two,” and have developed intensely accurate diagnostic computer analytic tests that can pick up cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and many other conditions, often 5-15 years before they ever become symptomatic. Once these conditions are diagnosed, early intervention can be sight-savers in many cases.
2. Keep them protected. In terms of eye protection, not only have the traditional “safety glasses” expanded into almost every area of work and recreation, but their quality and appearance have improved as well. Longstanding examples of eye protection while using fireworks, opening champagne bottles and playing racquetball are still there, but consider yard work, mountain biking, kick boxing, basketball… you get the point. Our culture is so much more active now, and in such diverse ways, and having a good pair of safety glasses that can be used in many areas is a very good idea. Sporting goods stores as well as opticians and Optometrists offices carry these, as do many sites on the internet.
3. Better coverage. Let’s talk about sunglasses. The good news now is that even the cheap sunglasses at the big box stores have adequate ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) protection. Of course, the expensive and stylish ones do a great job as well. The two biggest areas where we believe our eyes need the most UV protection are when we are on a boat or a golf course for a prolonged period (4 hours or so). In these environments, the sunlight is pouring into our eyes, and we have proven UV exposure at these levels can advance cataract formation. You may not need sunglasses when walking from your house to your car, or even out walking the dog; but, better coverage is advised during prolonged periods of exposure.
4. Keep it healthy! Everywhere we go we hear about the importance of diet and exercise, and regarding eye health, it is no different. As an old family doctor says, “If it looks good, don’t eat it,” and get 20 minutes of cardio exercise at least three times a week. Diet, exercise, and overall “physical fitness” can help delay or prevent macular degeneration, cataract, diabetes and countless other ocular conditions.
5. Know your roots. It is a very good idea to be well aware of your family history regarding various eye conditions (and health in general). Glaucoma, cataracts at a young age, and macular degeneration are all clearly hereditary, though the exact predictiveness of that is not always easy. If you are proactive with this knowledge and have a very good annual or biannual eye exam, you should enjoy good visual function for many decades ahead.