Fitness Facts: Get focused during Save Your Vision Month
By Jo Gott
Adult Nurse Practitioner – Board Certified, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
With the coming of spring, people will spend more time outdoors enjoying the sunshine. In addition to wearing sunscreen to protect your skin from damage, eye protection is important to protect your eyes.
March is Save Your Vision Month, which means it’s a great time to think more about eye health. We tend to take our vision for granted, but anyone who has experienced an unwanted eye condition will agree that these five steps are vitally important to keep your vision for years:
- Get your eyes checked – The American Optometric Association recommends annual eye exams starting at the age of 5. Many of us did not grow up with this standard, but because of the drastic increase in screen time, annual exams are now recommended. Besides letting one know if corrective lenses are needed, eye exams can detect early eye diseases, resulting in an improved outcome. Examples of eye diseases detected might include: cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes and hypertension.
- Wear eye protection – Whether you are playing sports, working in the yard or going out in the sun, wear the correct protective eyewear. Goggles can save an eye from injury. Too often, people forget how dangerous UV rays can be to the eyes. As we know, exposure to bright sunlight is an important cause of cataracts. The function of sunglasses is to prevent the eyes from the harm of bright sunlight. If you let your eyes be exposed to bright sunlight, year after year, you have a higher risk of developing cataracts.
- Give the screens a rest – There is a new diagnosis called Digital Eye Strain, and it is the result of too much time in front of screens. This can include smartphones, video games and computers. Use the 10-10-10 rule. If you spend more than 10 minutes at a screen, focus on something 10 feet away for at least 10 seconds. This gives your eyes a break from the constant bright screen.
- Eat vision-enhancing foods – The same foods recommended for a healthy diet are good for your eyes. For example, salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help lubricate the eyes and prevent macular degeneration. Carrots and spinach are high in Vitamin A and lutein. These help protect the cornea and prevent blindness.
- Stop smoking – Smoking constricts blood vessels, whether in the heart or eyes. Smoking can contribute to several eye diseases, such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and uveitis (an inflammation of the eye). Please stop this addictive habit.
Your eyes are precious. Do not wait until it is too late – please take care of your eyes, starting this month.