During the new year, many people think about how they want to improve their health. The year “2020” is the perfect reminder that keeping up on your vision health is critical. You can incorporate new healthy habits for your eyes just as you can any other part of your body.
Get an eye exam
Many people are tempted to skip their annual eye exam, assuming that their eyes will not change. However, it is common for prescriptions to change slightly from year to year, even if your eyes are healthy. According to the American Optometric Association:
- Nearly 16 million Americans have undiagnosed and untreated vision impairments
- Approximately 1 in 5 children has a vision problem
- 49% of people nationwide worry about losing their eyesight more than their ability to walk or hear
Despite these statistics, only 56% of Americans get a vision exam annually. That’s why the AOA has started the #2020EyeExam initiative, encouraging people to get their eyes examined by a professional if they haven’t in the last year.
>>Eye Health: The Basics
Know your family history
Understanding your family history of eye health can help your eye doctor understand what risk factors you may have, and what your eyes need to be healthy. Some eye issues, such as astigmatism and nearsightedness, show evidence of being hereditary. Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms of eye conditions, asking about your family history could be helpful in the future.
>>Good Nutrition is Vital to Eye Health and Healthy Vision
Reduce blue light exposure
Prolonged exposure to blue light may lead to digital eye strain, dry eyes, and headaches. Reducing screen time and wearing protective glasses may help reduce this strain.
Consider eye health supplements
There are many nutrients that support eye health that are found in fruits, vegetables, and other foods. However, when you need a little extra help to support your routine, there are some key eye health nutrients you should get to know.
There are two carotenoids found concentrated in the retina of the eye: lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red fat-soluble pigments that give fruits, vegetables, and plants their color. They can also be found in some algae, fungi, and bacteria.
Your body does not make lutein or zeaxanthin, so it is important to get them in your diet or through supplements. Supplementing with at least 6mg of lutein daily provides nutritional support for your eyes.**
Another carotenoid that you are probably familiar with is beta carotene. Beta carotene is essential for good eyesight and abundantly found in sweet potatoes, carrots and spinach.** In your body, it readily converts to Vitamin A as it is needed. Beta carotene is also one of the best antioxidants available, and it plays a role in supporting the immune system and maintaining skin health.**
Herbal eye support can be found through bilberries, a cousin of the blueberry. These edible berries grow in the mountains and forests of northern Europe, Canada, and the United States.
Bilberries also have antioxidant properties that support eye function.**
Other antioxidants, such as astaxanthin, may also provide eye support.**
Eating a nutritious diet, getting exercise, and staying on top of your exams are necessary to support your eyes for a lifetime. Make a commitment this year to get your eye exam and take better care of your eyesight! After all, your eyes are the windows to your world.