By Dr. Jeff Murawsky, Chief Medical Officer, SilverSummit Healthplan
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 21 million Americans have some sort of vision problem. While many of these problems are treatable, other eye conditions can trigger vision loss and even blindness. Eye problems don’t normally show signs until the condition is more advance and harder to treat which is why it’s important to take preventable measures to keep your eyes healthy. Here is important “healthy vision” information to keep on hand:
Q: What are some things people can do to keep their eyes healthy and make sure they are seeing their best?
A: Eat well and exercise, quit smoking and give your eyes a break.
- Eat well and exercise – Good eye health starts with the food on your plate. A well-balanced diet also helps you stay at a healthy weight which lowers your odds of obesity and related diseases like type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. To get them, fill your plate with:
• Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards
• Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish
• Eggs, nuts, and beans
Physical activity can help lower your risk of health conditions — like diabetes and high blood pressure — that can lead to eye health and vision problems.
- Quit Smoking – Quitting smoking is good for almost every part of your body, including your eyes! Smoking raises your chances of getting cataracts, can damage your optic nerve, and macular degeneration, among many other medical problems.
- Give your eyes a break – Many of us stare at our computer screens for hours a day. Looking at a computer screen for long periods of time can tire out your eyes. Rest your eyes by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Q: During the summer, are sunglasses really necessary to keep your eyes healthy?
A: Yes! And not just in summer, but year-round! Many people do not realize that UV rays can be extremely harmful to your eyes. Not only can your eyes get sunburned causing pain, but prolonged exposure to the sun without protective lenses can lead to cataracts, abnormal growths, macular degeneration, and skin cancer around the eyes. It is important to protect your eyes with broad spectrum protection lenses that block 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays.
Q: How can our members find out if they have any vision or eye problems?
A: Everyone needs to have their eyesight tested for vision and eye problems. Children usually have a vision test in school or at their healthcare provider’s office, but adults need more than a vision screening. They need a comprehensive dilated eye exam by an eye doctor. These exams include several tests that detect diseases in the early stage when they are easier to treat. At what age you should start getting these exams and how often you need them depends on many factors. They include your age, race, and overall health. For example, if you have a family history of glaucoma you need start getting these exams earlier.
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