Health Tips: Maintaining Vision Health

Tips and advice on how to maintain strong healthy eyesight for life, including screenings, diet, supplements and protective measures.

From the moment we are born, we rely on our eyes to teach us about the world around us. Vision is above all necessary for our safety. It keeps us from walking off a dangerous cliff, driving into a busy intersection, and asking the boss for vacation time when he is in a bad mood. However, our eyes serve much more aesthetic purposes than this. Imagine how empty life would seem without the stunning beauty of sunset, the warmth of your baby's first smile, or the pleasure of curling up with a good book. No other sense compares to vision in providing us with physical and emotional wellness. For this reason, it is vital that we take care of our eyes so that we can enjoy our eyesight for a lifetime.

Normal Vision

When asked what perfect vision is, most people instantly reply, "20/20." In fact, 20/20 vision is not perfect but only average. Optometrists base their measurements on how much the majority of people can see from a distance of twenty feet. If you were told that your vision was 20/20, it would actually mean that you can see as much from twenty feet as the majority of the population. This test, which gauges clarity, is performed in combination with others that measure range of vision and color perception. As a whole, they set the parameters for normal vision based on how the greatest percentage of people performs. While it is true that many people naturally have healthy eyesight, others are destined to be born with or develop vision problems within the first decade of life. Heredity plays a huge role in vision. For instance, the child with two nearsighted parents is likely to develop the same problem during the school years. On the other hand, eyesight problems that come later in life are not necessarily unavoidable. Proper vision care will dictate whether serious issues ever occur. The following sections will cover steps you can take to keep your eyes performing optimally.

Screenings

Regular eye exams are a necessary part of vision health. Whether you wear corrective lenses or not, you should have your vision screened at regular intervals to detect any potential problems. It is recommended that everyone have their eyes examined every three to five years between the ages of twenty and forty-nine, every two to four years from ages forty-nine to sixty-four, and every year or two from age sixty-five and beyond. Even for those with impeccable eyesight, a natural decline begins in the forties that may make the use of corrective lenses necessary. In addition, certain potentially serious conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration become more common with advanced age or in people with diabetes, AIDS, and HIV. Inform your optometrist at each visit of blurry vision, difficulty reading, or any other issues that have come up since the last visit.



Diet

It is scientifically supported that nutrition is one of the most important factors influencing vision health. The eyes, like every other organ in the body, are prone to the negative affects of the aging process and dietary deficiencies. Without a constant supply of needed vitamins and minerals, the lenses of the eyes can become hard and less capable of focusing properly. In addition, the retina, optic nerve, blood vessels of the eyes become increasingly susceptible to degeneration if not fed properly. Certain foods contain nutrients vital for vision health. These include nuts and berries like raisins, prunes, and blueberries, as well as eggs, darkly colored green and red vegetables like spinach, and seafood rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Also, consider limiting your intake of sugar, which can inhibit the passage of necessary fluids into the lenses.

Supplements

Vitamin and mineral supplements cannot replace a proper diet but will give you a safety net for days when a balanced diet is not possible. They should contain the recommended daily dosage (RDD) of nutrients vital for good vision including vitamins A, C, D, and E, calcium, zinc, selium, and niacin. Especially important is the inclusion of glucatathione, which studies have shown plays a large role in maintaining the lenses and preventing oxidization. If you are unsure of the best supplement to take, ask your family doctor or optometrist for a recommendation.

Protective Measures

Once you have ensured that internal measures have been taken to ensure your vision health, it is time to think about external factors. The UV rays in sunlight cause oxidization of the body's cells, which can result in detrimental breakdown. Most of us wear sunscreen, remembering that the sun can cause skin cancer, but we fail to protect our delicate eyes. Every time you go outdoors, wear UV protective glasses. Likewise, any time you are around bright lights, fire, or dangerous chemicals, guard them with appropriate eyewear. To avoid excessive strain, always read under bright lights. Since smoke can irritate the eyes, avoid cigarettes and second-hand smoke. If you have dry or itchy eyes, ask your optometrist to suggest the best kind of eye drops. Women should discard old mascara to avoid introducing dangerous bacteria into the eye area. Taking these steps, along with getting plenty of nutrition, fluids, and rest, will ensure your eyes serve you well for years to come.

No one should feel that he is fated to suffer the vision maladies of his ancestors. Even if Grandma lost her eyesight at sixty from glaucoma, you need not do the same. Scientific advances paired with better vision care are changing the outlook for millions of people who thought poor eyesight was inevitable. By taking the responsibility of maintaining your eyesight in your own hands, you can enjoy its pleasures throughout life.

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