May is a great time of year and we all enjoy being able to spend time outside with more daylight and take in the beautiful sights the spring season has to offer. The National Eye Institute has declared May to be Healthy Vision month to bring awareness to the importance of protecting healthy eyes and vision, so we will share some tips this month on how you can protect your sight and healthy eyes.

Get proper and adequate eye-healthy nutrition.

Our own Dr. Joel Hayden is a passionate advocate regarding the importance of nutrition and eye health. He has an interesting perspective on eye health and nutrition, as he is one of a very small group of people in the world who are both optometrists and nutritionists.

Proper and adequate nutrition is a vital part of maintaining healthy eyes and vision. Eating plenty of fruits and colorful or dark green vegetables can help you keep your eyes healthy.  According to the American Optometric Association, researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain serious eye diseases like age-related macular degenerationand cataracts. You can find these antioxidants in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and a lot of other foods.  

Watch Dr. Hayden share more insight on lutein and the eye. (link: https://youtu.be/esHVKDRFaSk)

Get regular exercise.

Exercise has many benefits for your physical and mental health, but did you know that it can also help you in the quest to maintain healthy eyes and vision? Some eye diseases are caused by underlying health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and getting exercise at least 3 to 4 times each week can help you manage those conditions.

Know your family health history.

Some eye diseases have a genetic component, so to understand if you have an increased risk of developing eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts, it’s helpful to know your family health history. Next time you’re with extended members of your family, ask around to see if there’s a history of eye disease, and be sure to share that information with your eye doctor at your comprehensive eye exam appointment.

Don’t smoke.

Smoking is bad for your entire body, and this includes your eyes. When you smoke, you increase your risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases. Smoking can lead to an increased risk for glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. Dr. Hayden shares that people who smoke have three times the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, which causes a blind spot in the central part of your vision. Women who smoke have an even higher risk of developing AMD, up to 5 times higher by the time they turn 80.  If you have dry eye syndrome, smoking can worsen your symptoms. If you smoke, work on a plan to ditch the habit for good.  

Protect Your Eyes from the Sun. 

We all enjoy spending time outside, especially when the weather is nice, but the sun can be harmful to your eyes. It’s important to consistently protect your eyes from the UV rays of the sun.

Wear quality sunglasses that block 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays and ask us about our options for the right pair of sunglasses based on your outdoor activities. If you’re on the water, for instance, polarized lenses reduce glare.

Ask us about our options! Everyone should wear quality sunglasses, including babies, children, and adults.  Wear a wide-brimmed hat if you’re going to be outside a good bit to provide extra protection from the sun’s UV rays.  

Wear Protective Eyewear When Appropriate.

If you work in a manufacturing environment, your employer may require you to wear safety glasses, and for good reason. People who work in front of computer screens all day should consider investing in lenses which block blue light and alleviate some of the symptoms of digital eye strain. Don’t skip wearing the appropriate protective eyewear while playing sports, doing yard work, or chores around the house. Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the best and simplest things you can do to maintain eye health and vision.

Pay Attention to Changes in Your Vision.

If you notice changes in your vision, be sure to schedule an appointment with us right away. It may simply be a matter of needing an updated prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, but if you’re experiencing changes in your vision along with red eyes, eye pain, flashes of light, or a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters, these may be signs of a more serious problem that needs immediate attention.

Get Regular Comprehensive Eye Exams.

One of the best things you can do to maintain your healthy eyes and vision is to maintain a regular schedule of getting comprehensive eye exams, even if you feel like your vision is fine. Many eye diseases have no symptoms in the early stages, and the only way to catch them is through a comprehensive eye exam. Your eyes are a window to your overall health, too, because it is the only place where the blood vessels can be seen, and so your eye doctor can spot issues which may be happening elsewhere in your body.

Dr. Joel Hayden at Hayden Optometric is an expert optometrist and nutritionist, and passionate about helping people maintain healthy eyes and vision. If it’s been a while since your last comprehensive eye exam, please schedule an appointment with us. We look forward to seeing you soon!