Written by: Keith F. Dahlhauser, MD
Although often overlooked, our eyes are an essential aspect of our health and necessary to view the world around us. If you do not know how to care for your eyes, several eye diseases may hinder your vision or eventually lead to vision loss, such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy. Here are some tips on correctly caring for your eyes to protect your vision.
Eat Healthy Foods
Having healthy eyes begins with following a healthy and balanced diet. In particular, studies suggest that foods high in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, and glaucoma. Among these foods include:
- Flaxseed oil
Wear Protective Sunglasses
When exposed to the sun, we often wear sunglasses to shield our eyes from intense brightness. However, sunglasses can also help protect our eyes from harmful UV radiation. There are two types of UV radiation that can penetrate the ozone layer:
Although UVA rays are weaker than UVB rays, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are most often associated with skin aging. Not only can UVA rays damage the skin, but they can also impair the macula, a part of the retina in the back of your eye, affecting your central vision.
UVB rays are mostly absorbed by the ozone layer, but the ones that do reach the Earth’s surface cause sunburns and harm the front part of the eye, including the cornea and the lens.
To combat these destructive effects and lower our risk of developing potentially blinding diseases, it is essential to wear protective sunglasses that block at least 99% of both UVA and UVB radiation.
Use Safety Eyewear
We must not only protect our eyes from damaging UV radiation, but it is also a good idea to wear protective eyewear when working with power tools or other machinery to shield our eyes from flying debris, dirt, or sparks. Another common cause of eye injuries is from bungee cord release accidents, which has resulted in:
- Eye lacerations
- Tearing or detachment of the retina from the back of the eye
- Bleeding within the eye
- Mild-to-serious vision loss
- Surgical removal of the eye
Due to the significant risk of bungee cords, it is always necessary to wear protective eyewear when handling this type of equipment. Another pastime activity that has caused a number of these serious injuries is from mishandling fireworks. Remember to always wear safety eyewear and follow other safety tips when using fireworks. Safety eyewear may also be necessary for certain contact sports like football, ice hockey, or lacrosse.
Research has indicated that smoking increases your chances of developing a number of eye conditions, such as:
- Macular degeneration
- Dry eyes
- Diabetic retinopathy
As an external irritant, smoking can not only increase your risk of these harmful conditions, but it can also exacerbate their symptoms by promoting inflammation in the body.
Wash Hands Frequently
Another way to protect your eyes is to wash your hands frequently, especially before putting in contacts. Contacts can be a breeding ground for bacteria if they are not cleaned properly. Washing your hands before you put in your contacts will help to keep the lenses free of dirt and bacteria.
Take Screen Breaks
In our modern era of technology, it seems that we are constantly in front of a screen. To reduce the amount of time that your eyes are strained from a screen, try the following suggestions:
Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
When looking at a screen, try taking a break every 20 minutes to give your eyes a rest. Look away from the screen and focus on something about 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds.
Adjust Your Screen Time Settings
Newer phones and computers now have screen time limitations. Using this setting, you can limit the amount of time you spend on particular apps to boost productivity and limit eye irritation.
Visit an Ophthalmologist at Least Once a Year
One of the best ways to care for your eyes is to have an annual eye exam with an ophthalmologist. Your ophthalmologist at Cascade Eye & Skin Centers will be able to recognize any underlying problems that may not be identifiable to the naked eye. Not only is it necessary to detect any eye diseases early on, but it is also important to determine if your eyesight has changed.
Contact Cascade Eye & Skin Centers
At Cascade Eye & Skin Centers, you will have the opportunity to work with Keith F. Dahlhauser, MD., for all your ophthalmology needs.
Dr. Dahlhauser is board-certified in ophthalmology and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Currently, he is the president of Cascade Eye & Skin Centers, as well as on the board of Pierce County Medical Society Board and the Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons Board.
A highly impressive individual, Dr. Dahlhauser has performed over 8,000 ocular surgeries and completes voluntary humanitarian missions twice a year to developing countries in South America and Africa to perform surgeries for the poor and underprivileged.