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Optimal eye health

Follow these simple tips to protect your eyes

by PRIDE Newsdesk

by Nashville General Hospital

Cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy (a complication from diabetes that can lead to blindness) are just a few eye diseases that many people experience.

Here are some eye-healthy tips that can help you take steps to manage existing eye conditions and prevent new problems from developing:

  • Eat a nutrient-rich diet that includes plenty of dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens. Fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon, tuna, and halibut) is good for your eyes, too. Carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and red bell peppers are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, an essential vitamin for good vision.
  • Be active and keep moving. Physical activity helps lower your risk of health conditions that can cause eye or vision problems.
  • Quit smoking, which can hurt your eyes. Smoking increases your risk of eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts. Smoke can also harm the optic nerve.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection, even on cloudy days.
  • Use safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes while handling chemicals, doing home repairs, construction work, playing sports or other activities that may pose a risk for your eyes.
  • Keep your hands clean.

Screen time and awake time can both have a negative effect on your eyes.

  • Look away from your computer screen, TV and smartphone. Rest your eyes by following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a break to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Take the strain off by getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. 

Get a dilated eye exam.

One of the best ways to maintain good eye health is with regular eye exams. During your annual physical, your doctor may look into your eyes and have you read an eye chart. For a more thorough assessment you should schedule a dilated eye exam. This simple and painless exam is typically performed by an optometrist who is a primary care doctor for your eyes. This test will help determine how clearly you see, your peripheral vision, eye muscles, pupil response, the pressure in your eyes and let the doctor look at the inner parts of the eye for problems like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

How often you have this exam depends on your risk for eye disease and if you are experiencing any changes in your eyesight. You should get a dilated eye exam every 1-2 years if you are:

  • Over age 60
  • African Americans over age 40
  • Have a family history of glaucoma

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor how often you need an exam. Most people with diabetes or high blood pressure need to get a dilated eye exam at least once a year.

Children’s eyes should be checked regularly by an eye doctor or pediatrician. All children should have a vision screening at least once between ages 3-5 years.

The ophthalmology team at Nashville General Hospital treats a wide range of conditions that affect vision and overall eye health. You can make an appointment and learn more about our diagnostic examinations and therapies by visiting our Eye Center website.

If you need help getting eye care, the National Eye Institute has a list of resources and programs that offer free or low-cost eye care.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should talk with your primary care physician or other qualified medical professionals regarding the diagnosis and treatment of a health condition.

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