This is a great time to emphasize the importance of regular eye exams to prevent eye disease and vision loss. The leading causes of blindness in Canada include cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, however, 75% of vision loss can be treated or prevented. Here are some useful tips to maintain healthy eyes throughout a lifetime:
- Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle – This can help prevent chronic diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, mental illness, fatigue, headaches, and other inflammatory conditions. It is recommended to consume a diet high in antioxidants such as leafy greens, spinach, kale and colourful fruits. Fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids can improve dry eye symptoms and are beneficial for brain and heart health. Lastly, make sure to stay
- UV protection – Wearing UV protection will slow down the progression of cataracts and help prevent the development of macular degeneration. Ensure that your sunglasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wrap around sunglasses and sunglasses that
fit closer to your face will provide the ultimate protection in preventing UV rays from entering your eyes at different angles.
- Safety eyewear – Work related eye injuries are very common, however, it is believed that with proper eye protection, the severity of the injury can be lessened or prevented by 90%. The type of safety eyewear you will need depends on the hazards in your workplace. If you are unsure of which type of eye protection you should be wearing, check with your employer and/or WorkSafe BC.
- Good contact lens care and hygiene – Be sure to dispose of your contacts according to the recommended replacement schedule. Do not sleep or swim while wearing your contact lenses. If your eyes become red and irritated, immediately discontinue wearing
the contacts and call your optometrist. Following these simple steps will help prevent vision threatening infections and other complications.
- Be smart with screen time – Follow the 30-30-30 rule for screen time: every 30 minutes look 30 feet away for 30 seconds. Stay hydrated throughout the day and consider adding blue blocker glasses to help relieve digital eye strain. Limit excessive hours on
the screen that are used for pleasure.
- Stop smoking – Smoking is a known risk factor for the development of macular degeneration, as well as cancer, cardiac disease and pulmonary disease. Smoking is the most modifiable risk factor in the prevention of macular degeneration, so if you’re a smoker, consider cessation of smoking as soon as possible.
Dr. Maegan Folk, BSc, OD
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