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Tips to Promote Eye Health and Prevent Eye Injuries

Your eyes are an important part of your overall health. The following are a few tips to keep your eyes healthy and to lower your risk of eye injuries:

Wear protective eyewear.

Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home or workplace. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for the activity in which you’re engaged. According to a national survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, only 35 percent of survey respondents said that they always wear protective eyewear when performing home repairs or maintenance — even fewer wear protective eyewear while playing sports. Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the most basic things you can do to keep your vision healthy throughout your life.

Wear sunglasses when exposed to the sun.

Protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) exposure by wearing sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV radiation. Most retail stores that sell eye glasses can measure how effective sunglasses are by using a machine called a lensometer. Avoid sunglasses that only offer dark lenses, but do not provide proper UV protection. Dark lenses actually dilate the pupil, allowing more UV radiation to get into the eye and causing more eye damage.

Have routine eye exams.

Even if you believe that your vision is fine and that your eyes are healthy, it’s beneficial to have your eyes examined on a routine basis by an eye care professional, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Many common eye disorders or diseases — such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration — often do not have noticeable symptoms or warning signs. Detection and treatment of these diseases in their early stages improves your chances of recovery and maintaining eye health.

Eat right to protect your sight.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables — especially dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale or collard greens, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut — are beneficial for eye health.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other health conditions — which may lead to vision impairment or loss.

Don’t smoke.

In addition to being detrimental to your health overall, smoking is bad for your eyes. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage — all of which can lead to vision impairment or loss. Smoking also raises the risks for cardiovascular diseases, which indirectly influences eye health. And tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, is an irritant that worsens dry eye, a very uncomfortable eye condition.

Give your eyes a rest.

Eye strain is a result of spending a significant amount of time focused on one thing, such as a computer. For general eye health, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away approximately 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This short exercise can help reduce eye strain.

Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly.

To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Also, disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.

Seek medical attention for an eye injury. If you have suffered an eye injury, have your eye examined by an eye care professional.

For more information or for a physician referral, please call 1-877-924-WELL (9355).

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