Make Your Eye Health a Priority!

More than 23 million Americans age 18 and older have never had an eye exam, according to a national survey conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The reason: Most say they don’t think they have an eye problem. In fact: Many eye diseases don’t have symptoms, so without an eye exam, they can’t know. You may be busy, on the go, and caring for your family, but it is important that you make the time to take care of you! Make your eye health a priority and take five important steps to protect your sight.

Get a dilated eye exam.

Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the best way to know if your eyes are healthy and you are seeing your best. Talk to your eye care professional about how often you should have one. If you want to see what your eye care professional sees during a dilated eye exam, check out NEI’s new eye exam animation!

Live a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Vision DietEating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, managing chronic conditions, and not smoking can lower your risk of eye disease. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Know your family history.

Talk to your family members—including parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles—about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease, since many diseases are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease yourself.

Use protective eyewear.

Protective Eyewear for Eye HealthProtect your eyes when doing chores around the house, playing sports, or on the job to prevent eye injuries from happening. This includes wearing safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate. Eyewear should sit comfortably on the face, so talk to your eye care provider about the appropriate type of protective eyewear for your sport or job. Make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times, and encourage your teammates and coworkers to do the same.

Wear sunglasses.

Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation, so you can keep your eyes healthy. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can increase your risk for getting an eye disease like cataract or age-related macular degeneration. A wide-brimmed hat offers great protection, too!

These steps can help you keep your eyes healthy and prevent vision loss and blindness from eye disease.

To learn more about eye health, visit www.nei.nih.gov/hvm.

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