Is one of your resolutions to take better care of your vision in 2021? We thought so! Just like any other part of our health, being proactive about taking care of your vision is one of the very best ways to protect it.
In honor of the New Year, here are the top 21 things you should commit to doing to protect and maintain your eye health.
#1 Get a comprehensive eye exam.
Even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts, you still need comprehensive eye exams on a schedule that is right for your age. A comprehensive eye exam takes a good, hard look at the health of your entire visual system, and is even a window into your overall health.
#2 Keep glasses and contact lens prescriptions up to date.
An outdated prescription makes it harder for you to see correctly, and it can also have other detrimental health effects, including headaches, dizziness and eyestrain.
#3 Find out if you have a family history of certain eye diseases.
Many eye diseases run in families or have genetic factors, including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Knowing your family history and informing your eye doctor about it are two ways to reduce your risk of developing serious eye problems.
#4 Know your other risk factors for eye diseases or other issues.
You may be at risk for certain eye diseases or vision damage if you have certain health conditions, are making certain lifestyle choices, or are in certain professions. Age is a risk factor, as well. Talk to your eye doctor to understand all your risk factors.
#5 Take good care of your eyeglasses.
Prescription eyeglasses are an investment, and caring for your glasses is an important part of caring for your vision. Clean your glasses with a microfiber cloth (avoid abrasive cleaning cloths, including paper towels and clothing) and a lens cleaning solution. Store your glasses in a protective hard case, and have them adjusted periodically by your optician so they continue to fit as they should.
#6 Take proper care of your contact lenses.
Misused and abused contacts can lead to all sorts of eye problems, including irritated or dry eyes, and even cloudy vision. Always wash your hands prior to putting contacts in or taking them out, store your contacts properly using fresh solution, and never use a pair of contacts for longer than the manufacturer intends.
#7 Always wear sunglasses when you’re outdoors.
Sunglasses can protect against damage to the retina, and can delay the development of cataracts. They also guard against wrinkles and skin cancer around the eye. Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, and wear them, whether it’s sunny or overcast.
#8 Wear protective eyewear when you play sports.
Whatever sport you play, you could be putting your eyes at risk if you don’t wear the necessary protective eyewear. Even solo sports that don’t involve a ball, like swimming or cycling, could put your eye health in danger.
#9 Practice eye safety at work and at home.
If you work in an occupation that requires protective eyewear, such as construction or factory work, never go without it. And when you work and do hobbies at home — whether it’s mowing your lawn or woodworking — always wear the proper protective eyewear.
#10 Maintain a healthy weight.
Those who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk for developing diabetes and other conditions that could lead to eye diseases that cause vision loss, such as diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma.
#11 Eat more fresh veggies.
It’s true: What you eat has an effect on your vision health. But it’s not just about carrots. Eating a diet chock-full of vegetables like dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, and broccoli, for example) is great for your eyes.
#12 Incorporate more healthy fats into your diet.
Foods stocked with omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help us keep our vision healthy as we age. These include fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna; nuts like walnuts and cashews; and seeds and legumes, including chia seeds, flax seeds, and lentils.
#13 Stay hydrated.
There are a lot of things that can dehydrate us, from caffeine and alcohol, to prescription medications and exercise. You may know that drinking water is important to keep your organs healthy, but you may not have realized that it can also help you keep your eyes lubricated.
#14 Quit smoking or never start.
Smoking is linked to all kinds of adverse health effects, and that includes eye diseases. Those who smoke are at a higher risk for developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Smoking can also damage your optic nerve.
#15 Get plenty of exercise.
Exercise isn’t just good for your heart and your muscles — it’s also great for your eyes. It can help you prevent or control certain conditions that can lead to vision loss, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
#16 Take periodic breaks from your screen.
Screens are a prominent part of our daily lives, whether we’re scrolling through social media feeds on our phones or working all day in front of a laptop. Although the jury is still out as to whether or not all that blue light affects our vision, it’s well known that extended periods of “close” work can cause dry eyes, eye fatigue and strain.
#17 Know the signs of eye fatigue.
Eye strain isn’t usually serious but it can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful. Watch for the symptoms that indicate you need to take extra care and give your eyes a rest: sore, tired or burning eyes; watery or dry eyes; blurry vision; headache; sensitivity to light; and tired eyes.
#18 Know your eye care professionals.
Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians all provide eye care services, but do you know how they’re different? An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor and can perform surgery for eye conditions. An optometrist is an eye doctor that performs exams and treatment for eye conditions. An optician helps you with glasses and contact lenses.
#19 Contact the eye doctor right away if something is awry with your vision.
If caught early, many vision problems can be treated and any threat of vision loss can be minimized. Notify your eye doctor as soon as possible if you experience symptoms like eye pain, seeing spots or floaters, double vision, a curtain or veil across your vision, straight lines that appear wavy, or any other sudden or frequent vision changes.
#20 Use your vision insurance.
Many people have access to vision insurance via their employee benefits plans or other insurance, but neglect to actually use it or put off scheduling appointments. Be proactive with your eye health by scheduling your eye exam early in the year, and remember to use your insurance to purchase contacts or new prescription glasses.
#21 Choose one specific eye health resolution for 2021.
We’ve come to the end of a long list of things we must all do to protect our eyes and prevent vision loss. But don’t get overwhelmed — select one thing you’ll work on in the New Year, and get started today.
Is it time to schedule your regular eye exam? Start the New Year off right by doing all you can to protect your vision. Make an appointment today.