4 Ways to Boost Your Eye Health

Smart steps that protect your eyes from leading causes of vision loss can also keep you healthy.

4 Ways to Boost Your Eye Health

Smart steps that protect your eyes from leading causes of vision loss—a risk for 61 million Americans—can also keep you healthy. Check out the latest advice on guarding your vision.

#1. Contact lens wearers: Clean up your act.
If you’re among the 41 million Americans who wear contact lenses, poor cleaning, wearing them too long or in the wrong places (we mean locales, not somewhere other than the eyes) boosts your risk for keratitis, an infection of the cornea caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or—that’s right—an amoeba. Keratitis can cause inflammation, corneal ulcers and vision loss. It sends nearly a million Americans to the doctor or ER annually, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Don’t wear your lenses when you shower, swim, go in a hot tub or sleep (unless your doc prescribes overnight wear).

Wash your hands before handling your lenses. Always use fresh lens solution—never water—for cleaning and storage. Don’t top off the solution in your lens case; replace it with fresh stuff. And use fresh solution, not water, to clean your case. Dry it with a clean tissue and store upside down with the caps off. Replace lenses as recommended; replace your storage case every three months.

#2: Eat for healthy eyes.
Piling your plate with fruits and veggies can lower your risk for major vision-robbers like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD, an eye problem for two million Americans, damages central vision and can make it difficult to do everyday tasks. Make sure your food choices include plenty of green leafy veggies like spinach, a top source of eye-loving lutein and zeaxanthin, which is also found in mandarin oranges.

Your body stores lutein and zeaxanthin in high concentrations in the lens of your eyes. There, these compounds work like natural sunglasses to deflect the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Bonus effect? A produce-packed diet also helps you stay slim, boosts your mood and protects against everything from heart disease and diabetes to some cancers.

#3: Put out the fire.
Smoking doubles your risk for cataracts and diabetic vision problems, and for people smoking for more than five years, triples your odds for AMD. As you’re probably already aware of, getting rid of the habit isn’t just good for your eye health, but your overall health too.

#4: See an ophthalmologist.
Regular eye exams—including eye dilation so the doc can get a good look at the interior of your peepers—are the best way to spot vision problems early. Research shows that many people at high risk for eyesight-dimming problems, like people with diabetes, aren’t getting the exams they need. So make an appointment today—you’ll feel confident knowing your eyesight’s safe.

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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