This month, the American Optometric Association (AOA) is celebrating Save Your Vision Month. March is dedicated to promoting eye health and spreading the word to people on the best habits to preserve and improve vision.
In a 2016 study, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) reported that an estimated 142 million Americans over age 40 experience vision problems that could have been avoided with preventative actions. The AOA has begun to push for awareness and expanding access to eye care. Here are a few simples ways to care for your eyes and help save your vision.
Receive Regular Eye Exams
Even if you don’t already wear glasses or contacts, making eye exams a part of your regular checkups is smart to prevent eyesight issues. Especially as we age, it’s important to receive a comprehensive eye exam to identify any age-related health problems. Here is a guide for when eye exams should be done, whether you wear corrective lenses or not:
- Age 6 months
- Age 3 years
- Age 5 or 6 – before entering first grade and every two years thereafter
- Age 18 to 60 – every two years
- Age 61 and older – every year
Wear Protective Eyewear
Items like sunglasses, safety glasses, and blue light blocking lenses are pertinent to saving your eyesight. Sunglasses protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause cataracts. Choose a pair of sunglasses that have 99%-100% UV protection. If you wear eyeglasses, find a pair of prescription sunglasses so you never have to go without.
Eyeglasses equipped with blue light blocking lenses can help prevent digital eye strain. Extended use of your phone and computer can cause dry eyes, blurry vision, and headaches. Most people spend more hours looking at a screen than not, so purchase a pair of eyeglasses to help prevent the discomfort of digital eye strain.
If you have a job in which safety glasses are required, be sure to wear them. Hazardous materials, large and microscopic, can be airborne while working and can cause eye damage or blindness. The same goes for sports like hockey and lacrosse – always wear protective goggles when needed.
Eat Foods That Support Eye Health
There are plenty of wholesome, nourishing foods that can help our eyesight. Foods high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, lutein, and omega-3s can help prevent age-related vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. Here are a few examples of foods to mix into your diet as you age to help save your vision:
- Foods high in Vitamin A – carrots, spinach, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes
- Foods high in Vitamin C – broccoli, strawberries, pineapple, and oranges
- Foods high in lutein – dark greens, eggs, corn, and pumpkin
- Foods high in omega-3 – fish, soybeans, chia seeds, nuts
As you can see, these are wholesome foods that will help not only with vision but with overall health and weight management as well.