The new year is almost here! And, fittingly for our practice, the start of 2020 is an ideal time to look at the steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear all year long.
Below are some tips to up your eye care in the new year. For personalized recommendations based on a thorough eye exam, contact Dr. Christopher J. Walton today.
1. Quit Smoking
One of the most common New Year's resolutions is also one of the best things you can do for the health of your eyes and your whole body. Smoking increases your risk for a host of eye disorders; some are simply irritating, while others pose a significant threat to your vision:
- Dry eye condition
- Diabetic retinopathy (in patients who have diabetes)
- Macular degeneration (also known as AMD, or age-related macular degeneration)
Quitting smoking is not easy. However, the benefits are immense!
2. Stay in Shape
On the opposite side of the same coin, healthy choices benefit the eyes as well as your overall well-being. Foods rich in omega-3s (including salmon, soybeans, walnuts, and more), antioxidants (leafy greens, berries, beans, etc.), and vitamins (especially A and C) deliver essential nutrients to the eyes that maintain healthy function.
A regular fitness regimen is also good for the eyes. Exercise keeps blood flowing throughout your body, delivering oxygen to blood vessels in the eyes. The flow of healthy, oxygenating blood makes you less likely to develop cataracts and other conditions that threaten your vision.
3. Reduce Screen Time
Digital eye strain is a growing problem in our increasingly device-centered personal and professional lives. Electronic devices like computers and smartphones emit blue light. The blue light is hard on the eyes; exposure for long periods of time can result in eyestrain, headaches, and other unpleasant effects.
Stepping away from screens is good for the eyes, as well as overall physical and emotional health. If spend a lot of time each day on your phone or the computer, be sure to take breaks and gives your eyes a chance to rest away from any screens.
4. Protect Your Eyes
Most patients know about the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays. However, eye protection comes in many different forms for a variety of situations. Depending on your lifestyle, you may consider these other types of vision protection:
- Protective eyewear for the home – If you're a DIY enthusiast, be cautious when working with tools and the sparks and debris they can produce; most accidents involving eye injuries happen at home, so investing in safety glasses, goggles, or other gear is smart when working inside or outside of your home
- Sport safety goggles – Injury to the eye is possible in many different athletic events; proper eye protection reduces the risk of cornea damage and other injury
- Swim goggles – From the ocean to swimming pools, a variety of different bacteria and other organisms live in the water; these organisms may harm your eyes, so it's best to wear goggles when swimming to keep them out
You can find protective eye gear at many stores, but it may be worth consulting your ophthalmologist for insights on the best options. Just like eyeglasses, safety equipment works best if it closely fits your face shape and fully covers the eyes and surrounding areas.
5. Schedule Your Annual Eye Exam
Getting an eye exam every year is the best line of defense against refractive errors that make it difficult to see, as well as progressive conditions that impact your sight. Eye exams can help detect:
- Myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism – our ophthalmologist can assess the impact of these refractive errors and prescribe corrective lenses
- Changes in your vision prescription – your eyes change and develop over time, perhaps necessitating updates to your glasses or contacts so they can provide you the best correction
- Glaucoma – the infamous "poof" of air to the eye is a key diagnostic test for this vision-threatening condition; glaucoma may present with no symptoms, which makes monitoring intraocular press a cornerstone of your annual eye exam
- Retinal disease – Dilating your pupils gives our ophthalmologist a wider view of the retina and optic nerve; this enhanced view enables Dr. Walton to check for injury or illness of the retina
Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Chris Walton has extensive experience helping patients correct their vision, maintain healthy eyes, and – if needed – manage eye conditions. To find out how he can help you, too, please call 251-341-3385 to schedule your initial consultation. Dr. Walton welcomes patients throughout the Gulf Coast areas to our office in Mobile, Alabama.