It's easy to take your eyes for granted, but maintaining eye health is essential for a good quality of life, especially as you age.
Given that it’s Women's Eye Health and Safety Month, now is a great time to review what you can do to care for your eyes. This is especially true when you consider that women make up the majority of Americans age 40 and older who are visually impaired or blind.
Incorporate these five habits into your lifestyle to ensure optimal vision and eye health now and in the future:
1. Wear sunglasses
Whether it's bright outside or not, the sun emits harmful ultraviolet rays throughout the day. You should always wear quality sunglasses when outside during daylight hours to decrease the risk of cataracts, according to the American Optometric Association.
Not just any sunglasses will do. Your shades should block at least 99 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. They should also screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light and contour to the shape of your face. With Mother’s Day upon us, ensure mom stays stylish while protecting her eyes with a new pair of sunglasses. For more information on what to look for, check out the AOA's shopping guide.
2. Eat well and get moving
Eating the right food and exercising is good for your health overall. There are some foods, though, that are better for your eyes than others. Eating foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin reduce your risk of chronic eye diseases. Additionally, a diet rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids help you avoid age-related eye diseases.
Some foods high in these nutrients include carrots, dark leafy greens, blueberries, sweet potatoes, eggs, citrus fruit and salmon. The Cleveland Clinic has also found regular exercise helps prevent several common eye problems that come with age.
3. Toss expired skin care and makeup products
It may sound odd that skin care and makeup products come with expiration dates, but there's a good reason for it. Over time, as you use the products, bacteria forms in them. Using expired products on your face and around your eyes can lead to irritation, eye infections and styes. Don't try to save a few cents on old products that could lead to expensive medical bills. Instead, protect your eyes.
4. Be aware of eye health needs over time
Your vision health needs may change as you get older. This is because different stages of life can cause changes in hormone levels in your body. For example, women going through menopause are more at risk for certain eye diseases than they were when they were younger.
Understanding which stages of life cause a change in hormones and working with an optometrist can help you better prepare.
5. Schedule your annual eye exam
With some eye diseases, you may not notice the symptoms until it's too late, so getting an eye exam each year can uncover diseases that can cause permanent vision loss or blindness if not treated early. Thus, it's worth getting checked regularly to preserve your vision health. An eye exam can also help detect common degeneration in your eyes, which can be improved with glasses or contacts.
You should also get an eye exam if you notice anything wrong with your eyes. Some symptoms to watch out for are double vision, eye pain, halos around lights, draining or redness.
The bottom line
Eye health is an important part of your overall health and can be easily overlooked. Taking care of your eyes can be as simple as getting a pair of glasses, or treating any problems as they arise. The trusted eyewear associates at MyEyeDr. can help find the perfect frames to complement your look and protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
MyEyeDr. is a network of more than 300 optometry practices east of the Mississippi that offer comprehensive eye care services, a selection of designer and value prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, and standard and specialty prescription contact lenses. By welcoming all vision insurance plans and providers, MyEyeDr. makes vision health attainable for everyone. For more information, visit www.myeyedr.com.