May is Healthy Vision Month

EyeCareMonth - USC Roski Eye InstituteThere is a lot you can do to maintain healthy vision. Here is a guide to the essentials in – EYE CARE

Examine your family history – Take the time to inform yourself of any medical conditions that may run in your family. Knowing the early signs and symptoms of certain diseases may help you reduce your risk of developing health problems later on. Early intervention of serious eye conditions like glaucoma can help prevent vision loss or even complete blindness.

Yearly check ups – Regular eye exams are essential as many blinding eye conditions, such as glaucoma and age related macular degeneration (AMD) can lead to progressive visual loss without any symptoms. At this time, there is no cure or even reversibility of damage caused by such conditions – hence, prevention is your best course of action. Your eye care provider can detect early damage or risk factors that can help you prevent irreversible damage before it occurs.

Eye protection – Whether it is at your workplace, in the garage, working on a project or even cutting the grass in your own backyard, you may be at risk of injuring your eyes and potentially losing your sight. Depending on the environment that you are in, we recommend using eye protection such as safety goggles, face shields or full-face respirators that are clear or tinted to protect from projectiles like nails, shattered glass or dust and in some cases lasers, or UV exposure. Make sure they are comfortable, fit well and allow you to have full visual function necessary for your job. Finally, be aware of the eye hazards that surround you at all times and avoid touching your eyes before washing your hands. Make note of the eye washing stations that are available in areas of hazardous chemicals. In general, know that you do not have to work in a chemistry lab to be exposed to harsh chemicals. Everyday cleaning products like ammonia, bleach and other agents can lead to severe eye injuries and permanent damage.

Cover your eyes from the sun – Sunglasses can prevent eye strain, cataract formation, retinal degeneration and reduce glare. Polarized lenses can be very helpful. Some individuals find amber tinted lenses very comfortable, since they reduce the amount of light entering the eye without compromising visual acuity and brightness to some degree.

Avoid toxins – Toxins such as cigarette smoke has been linked to eye irritation, acceleration of the development of cataracts, deterioration of optic nerve health and the development of age related macular degeneration (the leading cause of visual impairment in age > 65 in in the nation). This includes second hand smoke. The retina (back of the eye that helps process images) requires adequate circulation to maintain its diverse functions, and smoking is a major contributor to breakdown in these functions.

Restore and preserve – Maintaining a healthy diet by eating green leafy vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, lutein, and carotenoids can actually help preserve and restore your vision. These can be found in supplements, but a proper diet can provide these nutrients in more than adequate quantities. Supplements, as recommended by your physician, have been proven to prevent progression of AMD in patients with mild forms of the condition.

Exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle- Being active and staying fit is essential as obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are more likely to have vision complications. Those with chronic conditions such as diabetes are at greater risk of blindness and can control their blood sugar levels through regular exercise and a healthy diet.

by Debbie Mitra