Do you consider
eye health part of your overall health? Healthy eyes play a critical role in how
we learn, communicate, work and play. Without healthy eyes, even simple
daily tasks such as driving or working around the house become difficult.
You can keep your eyes in good shape by scheduling regular
eye exams, watching your nutrition and wearing
eye protection when needed.
Importance of an eye exam
Though healthy eyes are an important component of overall health, many
people overlook the health of their eyes and don’t keep up with
routine eye exams. Some vision impairments are entirely preventable—as
long as you maintain regular eye screenings.
It is often during routine exams that eye conditions become apparent. For
example, a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Age-related macular degeneration
These diseases often have no symptoms in the early stages. Detecting one
of these conditions during an eye exam could make the difference between
keeping your vision and experiencing at least partial vision loss.
Importance of nutrition
Nutrition is another important factor in keeping your eyes healthy. Proper
nutrition can prevent vision loss due to one of several eye conditions,
as well as night vision problems, dry eyes and even eye infections. There
are several nutrients that are essential for
good eye health. The “must-haves” for healthy eyes are:
Vitamin A: Helps prevent night vision problems, dry eyes, eye infections, cataracts
and macular degeneration.
Carotenoids: Help protect the retina from damage by the sun’s rays; help prevent
macular degeneration. (Lutein and zeaxathin are two carotenoids that are
particularly good for your eyes.)
Vitamin C: An antioxidant that helps reduce risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Vitamin E: Another antioxidant that can also help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
Zinc: An antioxidant that helps the body absorb vitamin A. It has also been shown
to protect against macular degeneration and night blindness.
Importance of eye protection
The human eye is extremely delicate and vulnerable to damage from the sun
and injury. Eye damage can result in permanent vision loss but it is entirely
The sun emits powerful UVA and UVB rays, which can have dangerous effects
on the eyes. UV rays can increase your risk of developing eye conditions such as
macular degeneration and even cancer of the eye. The best way to protect your eyes from sun
damage is to wear sunglasses.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 42,000 sports-related
eye injuries occur every year; 72 percent of these injuries occur in people
younger than 25. Eye injury can lead to blindness, and many times, injuries
to the eye are entirely preventable.
Use these tips to protect your eyes from sun damage or other injury:
- Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. (Wraparound
sunglasses are ideal, as they will also block rays from entering from
the side.) UV protection has nothing to do with how dark the tint of your
- Wear sunglasses even on cloudy days. Though clouds may eliminate brightness,
UV rays can still pass through the clouds and cause damage to your eyes.
- Pay attention to peak sun times. The sun’s UV rays are strongest
between the hours of 10AM and 2PM. It is best to avoid being outdoors
during these hours. If you must be outside during peak sun, always wear
- Wear protective eyewear when playing sports such as racquetball and lacrosse.
Hockey and football players as well as catchers in baseball and softball
should wear face shields (cages or polycarbonate shields) to protect their
eyes from injury caused by contact with a ball, puck or another athlete’s body.
- If you work in construction or another industry where your eyes are exposed
to debris, gases or other matter, wear protective goggles.
Your eye health is largely in your control. You can prevent vision loss
by keeping up with regular eye exams, eating healthy and wearing sunglasses
and protective eyewear to shield your eyes from sun damage or a sports
or work-related injury.