Contributing Author: The Tortoise
- Get regular eye exams.
This is essential. Eye problems such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts and retinopathy tend to progress slowly, which means that vision loss can go unnoticed until the condition is advanced. Many eye conditions can be treated if spotted early enough -- so go for your eye tests! Optometrists recommend an eye test every two years, more often if you're over 40, from a family with a history of eye disease, or from specific ethnic groups. People from African-Caribbean communities are at higher risk of developing glaucoma and diabetes, and those from South Asian communities are at greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy from diabetes.1
- Have regular physical exams to check for diabetes and high blood pressure.
Both of these conditions can cause eye problems if left untreated, including vision loss from diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and eye strokes.2
- Look out for changes in your vision.
Changes in your vision can indicate trouble, so see your eye doctor immediately if they occur. Signs of potential problems include double vision, hazy vision, difficulty seeing in low light conditions, frequent flashes of light, floaters, red eyes, eye pain or swelling.3
- Exercise regularly.
Research shows that exercise benefits the eyes, by reducing risks for high blood pressure, diabetes, hardening or narrowing of the arteries, and age-related macular degeneration.4, 5
- Eat highly-coloured fruits and vegetables.
A plant-based diet high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds is an eye-healthy diet. Blue, purple and ruby-coloured berries, such as bilberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries etc. have high concentrations of both. Research has found that antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish can lower the risk of developing macular degeneration in people with high genetic risk.6
- Don't smoke.
People who smoke are much more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, uveitis and other eye problems, compared to non-smokers.7, 8
- Protect your eyes from UV light.
Ultraviolet light damages the eyes and can increase the risk of developing cataracts, pinguecula and other eye problems.9 Light reflecting from snow, sand and water can magnify these risks. Wear good-quality sunglasses which block 99 - 100% of UV rays when out in bright light.
- Drink moderately.
Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of early age-related macular degeneration.10
1 Look after your eyes, National Health Service, UK
2 8 ways to protect your eyesight, Gary Heiting, All About Vision
5 Look after your eyes, National Health Service, UK
6 Age-Related Eye Disease Study -- Results, National Eye Institute
7 8 ways to protect your eyesight, Gary Heiting, All About Vision
8 Look after your eyes, National Health Service, UK
9 8 ways to protect your eyesight, Gary Heiting, All About Vision
10 Look after your eyes, National Health Service, UK
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