Your eyes are one of the body’s most powerful tools, your windows to the world. These organs of sight are so powerful that the word “eye” has potent symbolic meaning in many cultures. Consider these eye-popping terms and phrases – Eye of God, evil eye, third eye, eye of the storm, bull’s eye, to name a few.
Here’s a surprising factoid about your eyes. These amazing sensory organs contain the most active muscles in the entire body. The eyes are always moving, even when you sleep. In fact, the eyes have over 2 million working parts and the ability to process 35 bits of information every hour.
So don’t turn a blind eye concerning your vision health. Here are some tips to keep your eyes at their healthiest.
See Your Eye Doctor
Regular comprehensive eye exams are critical to protecting your sight. Typical vision problems you’ll be screened for include simple refractive issues like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (irregular conformation of the cornea) and age-related presbyopia (inability to see at close distances).
A routine visit includes a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Dilation drops are placed in both eyes so the doctor can look at the back of them and hunt for hidden damage or disease. Common eye diseases that develop especially as we age include cataracts (clouded lenses), glaucoma (damage to the optic nerve from too much pressure in the eye) and age-related macular degeneration (deterioration of retinal area called the macular), the leading cause of blindness in people over 65.
- Discuss with your primary care physician when you need to see an ophthalmologist. Go over your family’s eye health history to determine if you’re at higher risk for certain diseases.
- If you wear glasses, see your eye doctor on an annual basis to keep your prescription up to date and to screen for issues like retinal detachment.
- After age 40 see an eye doctor once every 2 years. In addition to screening for asymptomatic issues like glaucoma, ophthalmologists are often the first to detect conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you experience vision changes at any time, such as blurriness or dimness, make an appointment to see your eye doctor right away.
You already know smoking is dangerous for heart and lung health, but did you know that it also increases your risk for macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage? If you smoke, make a plan to quit today. Get Dr. Oz's Kick the Habit Plan here.
To protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, wear sunglasses. Choose a pair that blocks out both UVA and UVB radiation.
Don Protective Eyewear
Get in the habit of wearing safety glasses, goggles or eye shields to protect against eye injuries that can occur during sports, certain work or other activities. You can find protective eyewear at either eye care or sporting goods stores.
- Set your computer on a low table or use a portable computer so your eyes look down when you work. This keeps the eyelid opening smaller, which reduces your chance of developing the condition dry eye.
- Change your computer’s flicker rate to 70 or above to also help reduce irritation.
- To rest your eyes, look up from the screen every 20 minutes or so and stare 20 feet ahead for 20 seconds.
- If you sit at the computer all day, take a 10-minute break every 2 hours and go for a walk.
Physical Exercise = Good for the Eyes
Stay in shape. Being overweight increases your chance of developing diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. Thirty minutes of physical exercise not only benefits your heart and waist size but also can reduce eye pressure by 20%. Deep breathing also helps reduce eye pressure by draining the lymphatic system. Click here to try a fitness routine from Dr. Oz’s trainer, Joel Harper.
Get Your Omega-3s
The health-packed fatty acids known as Omega-3s, are not only good for the heart but help protect vision. For women the daily dose is 100 mg; for men 600 mg. Click here to learn more about omega-3 fatty acids.