7 Steps to Healthy Eyes

7 Steps to Healthy Eyes

Staring at our computers and devices all day causes dry eyes, according to Dr. Nicole Anderson-Weiss of Anderson & Shapiro Eyecare. Dry eyes aren’t simply a nuisance; tiny micro-erosions can form on the cornea, putting you at far greater risk for infection. Anderson-Weiss recommends taking regular breaks, keeping lubricating drops next to the computer and even posting a sticky note on your monitor reminding you to blink.

Stop in every couple of years for a thorough eye exam, and make that every year once you hit fifty. This is when incidence of glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration increase, in some cases without symptoms until very late. An eye exam can also reveal symptoms of serious medical issues such as diabetes, hypertension and strokes.

Certain foods are considered super boosters for eye health, rich in antioxidants, lutein and omega 3s, including blueberries, dark leafy greens, broccoli, green tea and fish. Ocular vitamins are also available.

Follow the recommendations on your contact lens box, keep the contacts and cases clean, don’t sleep in them and throw them out when it’s time. Anderson-Weiss says redness, irritation, light sensitivity, pain and decreased vision may be signs of inflamed or infected corneas. This can lead to permanent corneal scarring sometimes requiring corneal transplantation. “People get concerned about the risks of LASIK, but we see far more people lose vision from contact-related infections.”

Industry-approved safety goggles are critical for many professions, and Anderson & Shapiro—now the eye doctors for Meriter Hospital’s emergency room—are seeing more eye trauma than ever before. Whether it’s tiny objects in the eye, light-related injuries, corneal abrasions or chemical splash-ups, “Many of the injuries we see are related to lack of proper eye protection,” says Anderson-Weiss.

Even if you don’t work in a place where protective eyewear is required, you’re not off the hook. Whether you’re skiing the slopes or tackling the fix-it list, protecting your eyes with the proper gear is critical. Ulla Eyewear of Madison offers 12–15 hand-picked lines of unique frames, and almost any one of them can be fitted with either polycarbonite or Trivex lenses, both offering impact-resistant protection without sacrificing style or comfort.

But there’s one item that arguably offers the most crucial protection of all.”The biggest thing is sun lenses,” says Brittany Graber, president of
Ulla Eyewear. “It’s so important to protect your eyes from UV rays, as equally important as protecting your skin.” Polarized sun lenses cut down on horizontal glare—those blinding reflections from the hood of another car or those bright, snowy fields that not only impair driving but can also cause irreversible damage to your eyes. UV damage accumulates over a lifetime and can lead to cataracts and other serious eye health issues. Remarkably, Graber says the majority of UV damage occurs before the age of eighteen, so it’s important that kids and teens wear sunglasses, too.

It happens to everyone around age forty, even if you’ve enjoyed perfect vision up to that point. Presbyopia, in which the lens loses its ability to focus up close, is a normal part of aging. One word of caution: get your doctor’s advice about which strength you need, because ready-made readers may not do the trick. “Typically you start out with the lowest power and work your way up,” says Graber. “If deciding between two powers, it’s best to choose the lower one or you may have eye strain.”

March is both Save Your Vision Month and Workplace Eye Wellness Month, according to the American Optometric Association and Prevent Blindness America, respectively. Whether at work, at home or at play, our eyes are critical and vulnerable. What can you do to protect your eyes and, in turn, how can your eyes protect you?