Making Eye Health a Priority
Most Canadians get their teeth cleaned at least once a year, but get their eyes checked? Not so much. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO), many Canadians skip their regular eye exam if they aren't having trouble with their vision. In fact, it's common for people to visit their optometrist only when they have an eye problem, yet diseases such as glaucoma and diabetes may advance without symptoms, leaving the eye vulnerable to damage.
Here are a few ways to promote proper eye health.
See your optometrist regularly
The CAO advises that everyone have an eye exam every one to three years. Young children and the elderly, as well as those at high risk for eye problems and with medical conditions, should go more often, as advised by their optometrist.
Look away from the computer
If you're reading this on a screen, there's a good chance you're one of the between 70 and 75 percent of computer users who has computer vision syndrome (CVS), which can cause dry eye, eye strain and light sensitivity. To prevent or alleviate CVS, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.
Eat properly (really!)
Your nutrition, or lack thereof, can have an impact on the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. A diet high in saturated fat and sugar may increase your risk of eye disease. On the other hand, healthy foods such as greens, fruit and fish may help prevent certain eye diseases. Eye conditions including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration have been shown to occur less frequently in people who eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy proteins and omega-3 fatty acids.
Protect your eyes from the sun
Sunglasses block harmful ultraviolet and other rays than can contribute to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. Fair-skinned Caucasians are at the greatest risk for the latter. Sunglasses should have 100 percent UV protection. You should always wear them when outside (and not just in the summer), especially in high-glare areas around snow or water.
Research suggests smoking contributes to risk of macular degeneration.