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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 11 million Americans 12 years and older could improve their vision through proper refractive correction or eye glasses. More than 3.3 million Americans 40 years and older are either legally blind or have low vision (possess <20/40 vision). The leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are primarily age-related eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. While we cannot stop the aging process, we can protect our vision by taking better care of ourselves.
Aging is a natural process in the circle of life, losing your vision doesn’t necessarily have to be. There are many preventive options that you can adopt to maintain healthy eyesight. Below are five key strategies to keep your corneas copasetic.
THE EYES HAVE IT
Go see the doctor. By having a comprehensive dilated eye exam you can address any potential or small vision issue before it gets out of control. Visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure your eyes are fine. Many common eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration, often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye—the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if you’re seeing your best.
Know your family health history. Did you granny wear glasses? How about your uncle? Chances are your own eye health is genetically linked to your ancestors. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since many are hereditary.
Eat right to protect your eyesight. Carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or collard greens—is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna.
Get to a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. Consult your physician about maintaining a healthy weight.
Wear protective eyewear. Protect your eyes when playing sports or doing activities around the home. 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. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.