- December 17, 2015
“The question is not what you look at, but what you see,” said writer Henry David Thoreau. We have so much to see — the sunrise and sunset, the gracious moss on the trees, our canopy streets, ocean waves, smiles of those we love. Seeing is one of our most precious skills. A national survey found that 70 percent of us feel losing our eyesight would have the greatest impact on daily life.
So how do you care for your sight? The same things that are good for your heart are also good for your eyes. These include healthy eating, healthy weight, not smoking, control of chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, regular checkups and eye protection.
• Eat well. Eat a variety of vegetables. Dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and, yes, carrots are good for your eyes. Fish with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut, are also helpful.
• Keep a good weight. Keep your weight in the healthy range to lower the risks of hypertension, diabetes and their complications. Hypertension can damage your vision. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness.
• Be tobacco free. Not smoking — or quitting tobacco — can reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness. And of course, smoking is tied to high blood pressure and heart disease, which aren’t good for your eyes either.
• Get checkups. Like your car and your overall health, your eyes also need regular checkups. A full eye exam can identify glaucoma, macular degeneration or eye damage from diabetes. In the early stages, these problems have no warning signs; only a dilated eye exam can detect them. A local eye doctor noted many people opt out of the dilated portion of the eye exam. Not good.
• Protect eyes from the sun. Protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays with sunglasses that block out 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. The intense sun rays of Central Florida are especially damaging to the eyes, raising the risks for cataracts and macular degeneration. Think of sunglasses as optical sunblock.
• Protect eyes from trauma and infection. For sports and other activities, wear the right protective gear, such as safety goggles or eye guards. If you wear contacts, wash your hands before touching the lenses or your eye to prevent infections.
• Rest. Your eyes also need rest. Reduce eye strain when looking at computer or TV screens with 20-20-20: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
• Resources. For those who have lost much of their vision, we are fortunate in Central Florida to have Lighthouse (www.lighthouseCentralFlorida.org), a nationally accredited non-profit organization that offers extensive services for those who are blind or have severe vision impairment. New technologies and resources help with a wide range of activities.
For more information, visit:
Centers for Disease Control Vision Health Initiative, www.cdc.gov/visionhealth
American Optometric Association, www.aoa.org
American Academy of Ophthalmology patient information, www.geteyesmart.org
National Eye Health Education Program, www.nei.nih.gov/nehep
Nancy Rudner Lugo is a Maitland resident is a nurse practitioner and President of Health Action, offering workplace health consulting and nurse coaching. Visit www.healthaction.biz