For many people (myself included), the end of January can become the battleground between success and failure for "new year's resolutions." But there are some resolutions that we can't afford to let die, and a resolution to achieve better eye health is one of them. Not only is this resolution essential to our day-to-day lives, but it may be easier than you think. Consider the following 11 Ways to Promote Better Eye Health in 2011:
1. Eat More Fish Oil: fish oil and flax seed oil supplements are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially for those who are not consuming 4-5 servings of cold-water fish every week. The omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in studies to reduce risks in macular degeneration, improve symptoms in dry eye syndrome, and lower triglycerides and possibly reduce cardiovascular risk factors. About 1000mg of omega-3 each day is optimal.
2. Wash Your Hands: seems obvious right? Most of us wash and/or sanitize our hands after the restroom and before we eat. But how often do you sanitize your hands throughout the day? In our daily activities, we routinely encounter germs which, when transferred by rubbing or touching around the eyes, can cause ocular infections.
3. Don't Give the Computer Your Undivided Attention: constant staring at a computer screen has 2 results. It will frequently induce dry eye symdrome characterized by dry, sandy-feeling, red, irritated eyes. And it can cause your visual system to over-strain its accommodative or near-focus muscles leading to head aches, eye strain and fatigue. Instead, practice the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
4. Don't Rumble with Your Computer Empty-handed: computer glasses have a prescription specifically designed for computer focal distance and they have an anti-glare treatment to reduce harsh glare that often leads to eye strain. These may be your best weapons to battle Computer Vision Syndrome.
5. Talk to Your Family: ask immediate relatives about your family history of eye disease. Certain conditions, especially glaucoma and macular degeneration, show increased risks in individuals who have a family history of the condition.
6. Encourage a Friendship between your Lawn-Mower and your Protective Sunglasses: we all know lawnmowers can be a little temperamental sometimes, but they won't mind if you bring your protective sunglasses into the friendship. Studies show that most ocular injuries happen around the house, especially while doing yard work. Wearing sunglasses made of polycarbonate or trivex protective lenses can protect your eyes against flying objects and provide UV protection against the sun at the same time.
7. Annual Eye Exams: this really should have been at the top, but you would have expected it there! Just look at glaucoma. It's a silent disease that only presents symptoms in the advanced stages. It's also the 2nd leading cause of blindness in America, but severe vision loss is most often preventable with early diagnosis and treatment. Yet, this is just one example of why regular eye exams are important.
8. Follow Popeye's Example: he was ahead of his time in his consumption of spinach. Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, are extremely rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants essential to maintaining ocular health. Spinach also is a good source for Lutein, which is being looked at in the reduction of risk factors for macular degeneration.
9. Preventative Family Medicine: annual visits with your family physician are key in identifying many health risks. Did you know that undiagnosed or poorly-controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and many other conditions put your eyes at risk for vision loss?
10. Preventative Eyewear Maintenance: your glasses may start to lose their best fitting adjustment within in a few months. And a poorly or incorrect fitting pair of eyeglasses can be source for headaches. Consider your glasses in need of a tune-up every few months and visit your optical to have the arms and nose pieces readjusted to ensure optimal comfort.
Dr. Russ Beach
Clearview Eye Care, Inc
Virginia Beach, VA 23464