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10 Ways to Save Your Eyesight

By Dillon Wallace

When it comes to our senses, eyesight is the number one sense that people value. In fact, it’s so important that people value their sight more than they do their ability to walk – even their own memories, according to the American Optometric Association’s 2012 survey. Apparently as long as people can see, it doesn’t matter who or what they remember. That’s scary but it speaks volumes about how much we value our vision.

So, if eyesight is sooooo important, then why are people abusing it on a daily basis?

No, your eyes didn’t deceive you – you read that right. Every day, our eyes are under constant stress, and the worst part is most people probably don’t even realize it. Everything from our relentless interaction with screens and skipping specific nutrients to sun damage and skipping routine eye exams.

Don’t fret! We’ve got just what you need to protect your peepers, so you can enjoy your eyesight for years and years to come.


1) Follow the 20/20/20 rule

It’s no surprise that our lives center around screens. From computers and phones to televisions and tablets, our eyes are in a constant state of screen fixation. Normally, we blink about 15-20 times a minute, but that rate decreases significantly (nearly half) when viewing screens. That may not sound like a big deal, but blinking often is healthy because it spreads the tears over the cornea, or front of the eye. If we don’t blink enough, the cornea can dry out causing irritation, strain and styes.

So if you’re like the majority of 9 to 5 America, try initiating the 20/20/20/ rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will promote a more natural blinking pattern giving your eyes time to rest and refresh.


2) Keep your distance

It’s safe to say that despite screens being a major hazard to our eyes, there’s no getting rid of them. We live in a digital world, after all, spending on average 9.5 hours of screen time a day. Luckily, other than the 20/20/20 rule, there’s another helpful eye-saving hack – keep them at arm’s length. Rule of thumb (or in this case, rule of arm) is to keep your computer screen at least arm’s length from your eyes and 16 inches from handheld devices. It’s important to note the handheld distance because most people hold their devices a mere 6-10 inches away.


3) Know your family’s eye health

If your family suffers from a history of heart disease, then you know that you’re more susceptible to heart disease yourself. The same principle applies for your eyes. If your family has a history of high blood pressure and diabetes, if you’re an African American over the age of 40, all these traits can factor into a higher risk of eye disease.


4) Throw some shade

Not that kind of shade. No, for your eyes. Wearing UV certified sunglasses during the daytime can shield your eyes from the sun’s rays, helping you reduce your risk of cataracts, pinguecula and more. Even when it’s slightly overcast, the sun’s UV rays can still get through the clouds – so keep that in mind. That doesn’t give you a free pass to pull a Corey Hart and wear your sunglasses at night. That’s not cool and never will be.


5) Seafood is the new see-food

Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to boost heart and brain health, but did you know they can decrease your risk of eye disease? Natural fish oils and supplements increase promote a healthier tear film for your eyes, not to mention they are jam-packed with antioxidants that can aide in halting Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Since antioxidants are such an eye booster, it’s smart to incorporate a diet of fruits and colorful or dark green vegetables into your eating regimen. Looks like the myth that “rabbits can see so well because they eat lots of carrots” isn’t really a myth after all.


6) Get your sweat on

Turns out that working out isn’t just good for losing weight and gaining muscle. In fact, simple exercises like walking can even help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70 percent, according to the AAO. So get to stepping so you can keep seeing.


7) Put out the cigarette

If you’re a smoker, then add eye health to the laundry list of detriments caused by cigarettes and cigars. That’s right, smoking puts you at risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, uveitis and other eye issues. Clouds of smoke also dry your eyes out, which can cause irritation to your cornea and optic nerve by battling your tear duct production.

8) Goggle up

Wearing protective eyewear may be one of the easiest yet most overlooked ways to preserve your eye health. Just because you don’t work in a factory, doesn’t mean that your eyes are safe. From contact sports to home refurnishing projects and more, make sure you protect your eyes before it’s too late – you only get two.


9) Schedule annual eye exams

Even if you’re around the 20 percent of Americans who don’t need corrective eyewear, it’s still beneficial to see the doctor for an eye exam, especially before the age of 40. Annual follow ups after 40 can help subside sight symptoms and preserve your vision for longer, better. And if your family has a history of glaucoma or diabetes, routine exams should be administered because you may be at a higher risk for vision-related problems.

Lastly, comprehensive eye exams can less invasively assess your risk for health issues like stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis and aneurysms – largely because the eyes are the only part of the body where doctors can view arteries and veins without surgery or incision. 


10) Skip the coffee, grab a tea

That’s not to say that your morning cup of joe is a bad thing, but that afternoon pick me up could be. Swapping a cup of afternoon coffee for a cup of green tea can provide your body with catechins, a powerful antioxidant (like Vitamins C and E) to help protect your eye’s tissues from AMD and cataracts. Who knows, a little less caffeine might even encourage you to catch more zzz’s, promoting healthier, happier eyes.

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