May is Healthy Vision Month. It is celebrated to stress the importance of the health of our eyes and vision. Established in 2003 by the National Eye Institute, the goal is to spread awareness and educate society about the risks of ignoring overall eye health. One main goal for the month is to encourage individuals to have regular eye exams and checkups. It is important to be proactive and not wait for vision problems to start.
Approximately 39 million people in the world are blind and six times as many are visually impaired or have some type of sight impairment. Some eye conditions can cause vision loss and even blindness. These include Cataracts, a clouding of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy, which causes damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve, often with increased eye pressure. Age-related macular degeneration, which gradually affects central vision.
5 ways to protect and support healthy vision.
- A healthy diet is very important for good vision. Eating healthy supports every part of your body. To help your eyes, make sure you have dark, leafy greens and seafood that is high in omega three fatty acids in your diet.
- Wearing protective eyewear keeps your eyes safe during many activities. Protective eyewear is not only just when playing sports. Everyday activities, especially outside where different environments can have items or objects blowing through the air can be dangerous for your eyes. Some activities such as mowing the lawn, cutting firewood, or even painting can put your eye safety at risk. It is also important, with as much time as we look at screens, that we start wearing blue light protection glasses. These glasses can prevent the blue light from damaging our eyes and will assist with the wear of our everyday screen viewing.
- Wearing sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the UV rays (ultraviolet radiation) that the sun produces every day. It is significant to note that not all sunglasses provide levels of protection from UV rays. When shopping for sunglasses, it is vital to ask what type of UV protection the glasses provide. Sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection will provide the most defense.
- Clean hands are very important to your eye health. Keeping your hands clean will aid in keeping dirt and possible infections from your eyes. We wipe and rub our eyes constantly throughout the day and even the slightest dirt or germs can have real, long-lasting effects. It is also key to make sure your hands are clean, especially if you use contacts and are putting them in or taking them out.
- Smoking is detrimental to your eye health. Smoking has been linked to many diseases, but it can also lead to vision loss. Smoking can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other vision impairment.