(StatePoint) We know we’re supposed to eat healthy and floss to keep the doctor and dentist away, but how many Americans know how take care of their eyes?
“More than 30 million Americans have a visual impairment that affects their quality of life,” says Dr. Tamara M. Kuhlmann of Eyecare Professionals of Powell in Ohio. “But basic eye care can help detect signs of and prevent a number of diseases, such as diabetes, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.”
There are many things you can do to maintain good eye health:
While there doesn’t seem to be any food that’s especially bad for eyes, eating right goes a long way in preventing illnesses and minimizing symptoms. Since inflammation is the basis of many eye problems, optometrists recommend avoiding inflammatory foods, such as red meat, and suggest eating lots of leafy greens and Omega-3 protein.
Get Yearly Exams
Annual eye exams are a proven and cost-effective measure in managing the impact of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and macular degeneration, which is the progressive lost of central vision, usually due to age. Be sure to enroll for stand alone vision coverage through your work or individually to save money not only on eye exams, but on designer frames and contact lenses. In fact, vision coverage can save an average of $200 per family member.
You should be aware of your employer’s dates for open enrollment for benefits. A growing number are offering vision benefits on a cost shared or voluntary basis to employees. These plans usually open for enrollment in the fall and can be coupled with flexible spending accounts to save you even more money.
If you’re unemployed, retired or self-employed, you can purchase your own individual or family vision coverage. To learn more about this possibility, visit www.vsp.com
The sun’s UV rays can increase your risk of developing cataracts, so be sure to wear sunglasses, preferably ones with polarized lenses, even in winter. And always wear goggles when swimming.
While it’s unclear whether eye movement exercises preserve vision or prevent disease, there is research suggesting aerobic exercise reduces eye pressure — which can be beneficial in the case of glaucoma. And consider wearing prescription goggles for contact sports.
If you have a desk job, take precautions. Working at a computer can cause eye fatigue and symptoms such as tired, dry, itchy or burning eyes. Computer-bound workers should be in well lit areas, take frequent breaks, remember to blink and use eye wetting drops if eyes feel dry.
For more tips on eye health, visit seemuchmore.com
“Most people get 80 percent of their information through use of their eyes,” says Kuhlmann, “It’s important to take care of your most valuable asset.”
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