March is Save Your Vision Month 2014. Why not participate by learning how your eyes work and how to take better care of them?
If you are lucky enough to have good eyesight, you really should take measures to protect it. Your eyes can be easily damaged, and while many injuries and infections can be treated, it is easy to cause permanent damage to your eyesight if you are careless.
In addition, while your vision can deteriorate with age, many medical conditions that cause loss of vision are actually treatable. With proper care, you may be able to enjoy good vision well into old age.
Protecting Your Eyesight
When most people think of eye protection, they think of safety wear that is used in schools and in the workplace, but there is more to protecting your eyesight than that. Did you know that exposure to UV rays from the sun can harm your eyes? Most people know that you should not look directly into the sun, but it is possible to damage your eyes through general exposure too, even in cold weather.
The term snow blindness comes from the fact that snow can reflect bright sunlight into your eyes, dazzling you temporarily, and causing long term damage if you are exposed to glaring bright light for prolonged periods. This is why it is so important to wear UV-filtering eye protection when you go skiing, and to wear high quality sunglasses when you go to the beach in the summer.
Another important day-to-day eye-care consideration is hygiene. Your eyes are very delicate, and can easily become infected if you are not careful when putting on makeup, or putting in your contact lenses. Always wash your hands and face before putting in contact lenses. If you use disposable contact lenses, throw them away after the recommended number of uses. If a contact lens falls out, do not put it straight back into your eye – either clean it first, or throw it away and get a fresh one.
Never share eye makeup with another person, even a close friend, and do not use mascara for longer than the recommended period. Bacteria can grow in your cosmetics, and it is easy to accidentally transfer that bacteria from your mascara wand into your eyes, especially if you rub them during the day.
Eye Safety at Work
If your job involves working in dusty, dangerous environments, or with welding torches or similar equipment, you should always wear the appropriate eye protection. Do not be tempted to take shortcuts or skip protection because you will only be working for a minute or two. Eye injuries such as “arc eye” can be incredibly painful and debilitating, and may permanently damage your eyesight.
Nutrition for Good Vision
While carrots are the most famous food when it comes to protecting your eye health, there are many other foods that can also protect your eyesight. Some of the most valuable foods include green, leafy vegetables, oily fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and citrus fruits. If you want to take supplements to improve your vision, consider omega-3 fatty acids, zing, lutein, and the vitamins C and E. Supplementing these may help to ward off age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other age-related vision problems.
Smoking can harm your eyesight, and can also hamper your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Smoking is also incredibly harmful to your cardiovascular system, and research indicates that it can contribute to the development of many different cancers. Stopping smoking for save your vision month could be the best health related decision of your life.
The Importance of Eye Care
The most important thing you can do as a part of save your vision month is visit your optician. Ideally, you should make regular trips to an optometrist to have your vision assessed and monitored. A good eye doctor can provide you with fresh prescriptions for your glasses and contact lenses, and monitor your vision for signs of cataracts, glaucoma and other eye conditions.
Even if you feel like you have good eyesight, it is still worth visiting an optometrist. When the optometrist examines your eyes they can tell a lot about your overall health. Systemic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus produce tell-tale signs in your eyes. The eye is the only place in the human body where a medical professional can see a nerve, an artery and a vein without needing to make an incision. Having a trained medical professional look into your eyes could save your life.
For people who wear glasses or contact lenses, regular trips to the optometrist are even more important. Wearing the wrong prescription of lenses can lead to migraines, nausea and other problems, and could adversely affect your driving ability and your performance at work. Be sure to get your vision checked this month!
March is Save Your Vision Month 2014. Be good to your eyes by following these tips:
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #1 – Take Regular Computer Breaks.
Many of us spend hours staring at our computers or at a digital screen. This will make our eyes tired and dry as we tend to blink half as much when we are looking at a computer screen than when we look elsewhere.
The American Optometric Association recommends the 20/20/20 rule which encourages us to look 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. Additionally, your computer or digital screen should be slightly below eye level and about 25 inches away.
These recommendations from the AOA will help keep discomfort down and productivity up while using computers.
- Smaller screens usually have smaller text which can be hard on your vision. Try increasing the font size, instead of bringing the screen closer.
- To improve the clarity of your screen, try adjusting the brightness to a comfortable intensity.
- Try to reduce glare while using hand-held devices. This will make reading easier.
- Hand-held devices or computer monitors should be slightly below eye level making it easier for the eyes to focus on the reading material.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #2 – Avoid Eye Strain.
This infographic shares 7 things you may be doing at your desk that could lead to digital eyestrain.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #3 – Always Wear Sunglasses During the Day.
UV Eye Protection is essential for the health of your eyes.
Many eye care professionals and primary care physicians are warning their patients about the harmful effects of too much ultraviolet light exposure, in both summer and winter months. In the winter, snow blindness (also called ultraviolet keratitis) can occur. This is temporary blindness caused when bright light reflects off the snow. During the summer, many young people can be found near lakes, swimming pools, and oceans. Water and even sea foam are known to reflect about 25% of ultraviolet light, which causes sunburns after a time. Most are careful to wear sunblock, as the damaging effects of continuous sun exposure are now well understood, as are the better known risks of skin cancer. Each year, about 20,000 Americans die of skin cancer, and doctors attribute many of these deaths to severe sunburns sustained while outside. The shorter wavelengths of UV light carry more energy per photon, and the makeup of the skin is not well suited for blocking this type of light unless there is already a lot of natural pigment. In addition to accelerating aging, causing inflammation within the cells and damage to its thin collagen layer, UV light can also damage the whites of ones eyes, sunburn the cornea, and cause permanent injury to the retina.
What is ultraviolet light?
Ultraviolet light ranges in wavelength between xrays of 10 nanometers (nm) and visible light of approximately 400 nm. Most harmful UV rays of greater than 280 nm are blocked by the Earth’s ozone layer, which makes life possible on the surface. It’s the UV-B rays between 295-297 nm that help create Vitamin D, but also produce sunburn. UV-C rays are even shorter, 100-280 nm, and have proven useful for killing surface bacteria for food preparation. Natural sunlight has almost all UV-C blocked by either ozone or dioxygen before getting down to 100,000 feet of altitude. UV-A includes 315-400 nanometer wavelengths, and are visible to birds, fish, some insects, and even a few human beings. Extreme UV lithography is even being used to fabricate semiconductors used in tablets, PCs, smart phones, and supercomputers.
Effects of ultraviolet radiation
In 1967, a Santa Barbara newspaper reported that several college students experimenting with LSD would stare directly at the sun until they became permanently blind. Although the story was quickly found to be an invention, it proposed that the ultraviolet light that caused the damage. The story reappeared in a different form just eight months later with slight changes to the details. This time, the alleged, unnamed students were in Pennsylvania.
In fact, some astronomers, including Galileo, are said to have lost some of their vision while peering directly at the sun, and a more interesting legend is that some sailors and pirates went blind in one eye using the sun to calculate their ship’s position, hence the eye patch.
Arc eye occurs when welders do not use masks that offer. The symptoms are similar, but the effects may be permanent. Reduced eye sight, black spots, and poor vision were results in the past when arc welders stared directly at the metal parts that they were putting together without the aid of dark, protective covers. A famous scene from the movie Flashdance shows the main character welding, throwing sparks, then lifting the visor and face mask to reveal actress Jennifer Beals. That was due to arc eye.
Among other symptoms, increased tearing, constricted pupils, eyelid twitching, migraine headaches, discomfort to bright light, and a painful feeling like sand in the eyes can be felt by those who do not protect their eyes. Over time, people may also notice fatigue, headaches, stress, and lost performance or reaction times.
Continuous UV exposure, can cause damage to the cornea and eye pain. Hypertension, stress, elevated cortisol levels, poor memory, and other problems can result from the upregulation of adrenaline, akin to the fight or flight response. The human body is able to handle stress and even danger, but only when there is a cooling off period.
Healing may occur in 24-72 hours, but doctors frequently advise removing the patient from bright light and administer a topical anesthetic. Doctors may also recommend artificial tear drops or a cold compress. Avoiding daylight, removing contact lenses, and not rubbing the eyes can help with the healing process.
Get UV Eye Protection
In addition to wearing polarized lenses, which block almost 100% of UV rays, selecting routes with tall trees and buildings, avoiding large snow drifts, and taking breaks to allow the eyes to recover may help cut down on UV exposure, according to experts. Even under overcast conditions, snow fields, large bodies of water, sea foam, and other materials can reflect UV light into the eyes damaging the sclera (whites of the eyes), the cornea, and retina. Drivers considering long trips especially should consider over-sized polarized sunglasses for protection.
Polarizing is effective at reducing both UV and glare by as much as 99%. Each human eye has only one retina, and, if permanent damage is suffered, it will never fully recover.
So, be sure to use UV eye protection to prevent UV damage your eyes.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #4 – Do Not Ignore Eye Problems
Be sure to see an eye doctor if you:
- are having trouble seeing clearly
- see flashes of light or dark floating spots
- have swelling, pain, sensitivity to light or secretions
If you feel like there’s sand in your eye, be sure to rinse with saline or clean water. If your eyes are red or itchy, you can soothe them with eye drops, antihistamines, or cold compresses.
How is your vision?
Is your child struggling with reading, math or sports? A visual issue may be causing your child to underperform.
Do you experience…
- Tired, burning or strained eyes?
- Blurry vision or fatiguing after extended computer use?
- Ability to read for only a short time before getting a headache or having difficulty focusing?
- Difficulty judging how far away other cars are when driving?
- Doubling of the tail lights on the cars ahead of you at night?
- Difficulty parallel parking?
- Difficulty seeing with your bifocals?
Get a complimentary, near-point vision screening to learn if Vision Therapy from 4D can help.
You can also schedule your annual eye exam with us.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #5: Eat for Healthy Eyes.
The American Optometric Association recommends the following nutrients for eye health:
- Zinc – can help the eyes resist light damage and is found in foods like peanuts and lean red meat.
- Vitamin E – can slow the progression of cataract formation and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and is found in vegetable oils and sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin C – can minimize the risk of AMD and cataracts and is found in fruits and vegatables.
- Essential fatty acids – can help to protect the eyes against dry eye and AMD and are found in tuna and salmon.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #6: Clean Your Contact Lenses.
We all know that it’s important to take care of your contacts. This includes:
- Handling lenses only after you wash your hands.
- Using approved cleaners and drops.
- Cleaning, rinsing, and drying your lens case each time you remove the lenses.
- Not wearing when you swim.
- Not sleeping with daily wear lenses in your eyes.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #7: Share Your Health History With the Eye Doctor
Be sure to tell your eye doctor your full health history, including eye problems or serious illnesses of your family members. That information is critical because some health conditions can affect the eyes. For example, diabetes and high blood pressure can reduce the blood flow to your eyes. Disorders in your thyroid or lungs can inflame your eyes.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #8: Throw Away Old Eye Makeup.
Did you know that bacteria can easily grow in your cosmetics? If you rub your eyes during the day, it is easy to transfer bacteria accidentally to your eyes. So, throw out eye makeup after 3 months.
Be sure to:
- Never use store samples of makeup.
- If you get an infection, get rid of used eye makeup.
- Never share eye makeup or other cosmetics.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #9: Get Regular Eye Exams.
Even if you don’t wear glasses, it is important to have your eyes checked regularly. Your eye doctor can tell you how often based on your health history. For ages 18-60, most agree that you should have an eye exam at least every other year unless you have risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes, have a family history of eye disease, are older than 60, or wear contact lenses.
Save Your Vision Month 2014 – Tip #10: Stop Smoking.
Smoking aggravates dry eye and increases your risk of developing cataracts. Because it builds up plaque in your bloodstream and weakens arteries, smoking raises your risk of a heart attack, and it can damage the retina and cause vision loss.
After you quit, fortunately, your risk of eye disease returns to that of non-smokers.