A Vision for the New Year
SETTING A VISION FOR THE NEW YEAR
At the beginning of every year, people make resolutions to better themselves. This year, I have some suggestions of my own to help ensure healthy sight for a lifetime.
Get your yearly eye exam
Even if you feel your vision is good and hasn't changed, it is important to have an annual ocular health exam. Most eye diseases don't have any symptoms and therefore can cause irreversible damage to your eyes before you even know it. Most vision loss from eye diseases,like glaucoma, can be prevented with early detection. It's also easy to assume that if you're young and healthy, you aren't at risk for eye disease. While it is true that most eye diseases happen later in life, there are some sight- and life-threatening conditions that can happen at any age, like ocular melanoma. Take 1 out of the 8,760 hours in your year to make sure your eyes are healthy!
Kick those bad contact lens habits
No one likes dealing with eye infections. It means time off of work, wearing glasses instead of contacts (gasp!), red, irritated eyes, and more laundry from extra towels and pillowcases! But the good news is that you can reduce your risk of eye infections by taking better care of your contacts. As many of you know, I'm a huge advocate of daily disposable contacts. A fresh lens is a healthy lens. If you still haven't make the change into dailies, though, make sure you're following these healthy lens habits:
Follow the recommended replacement schedule. If you wear a monthly lens, replace it the first of every month, regardless of the number of times your wore that lens. If you wear a daily, enjoy the freedom of throwing it out at the end of every day.
Clean your contacts. Most people use multi-purpose solutions that can be used to clean, soak, and rinse your contacts. Even though most of these solutions market themselves as "no-rub," I always recommend a quick rubbing of your lenses to remove any debris. Remember to always use fresh solution in your case; don't "top-off." Keep in mind that not all solutions are created equal. Follow your doctor's recommended care system.
Wash and dry your hands. Avoid getting bacteria on the lenses from the start. Drying your hands thoroughly is also important because water can harbor microorganisms that love to live in your contacts and cause nasty infections.
Replace your case every 1-3 months. Switch when you get a new bottle of solution or when you switch to a new toothbrush.
Don't sleep in your contacts. Even though some contacts are approved for overnight wear, there will always be an increased risk of infection any time a lens is in an enclosed moist environment (ie. your sleeping eye). Give your eyes a breather while you sleep.
Not only do sunglasses make you look stylish, they also offer great UV protection to your eyes. Even if you're eyes aren't bothered by bright sunlight, it is still important to protect your eyes from the sun. UV rays can cause damage to the delicate tissue of your eyes, increasing your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration (AMD), or ocular cancers.
Everyone has heard that eating carrots is good for your eyes. But there are many other foods that promote healthy vision. Eating colorful fruits and vegetables which are rich in anti-oxidants helps protect against macular degeneration and cataracts. Increasing your intake of omega-3s, found in fish or walnuts, can reduce dry eye symptoms and may protect against AMD.
I'm sure you've heard it before: smoking is bad for your health. But did you know that it's also bad for your sight? Smoking doubles your risk of cataracts, dry eyes, and diabetic retinopathy. It also leads to a three-fold increased risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over age 65. Visit smokefree.gov for help in quitting smoking.
Best of luck in reaching your 2017 goals!