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How can I maintain healthy eyes?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

 

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 percent. Deep breathing also helps reduce eye pressure by draining the lymphatic system.

More than a million Americans over the age of 40 are blind as a result of eye disease. An additional 2.3 million are visually impaired. Even more -- over 20 million Americans age 40 and older -- have age-related cataracts, the world’s leading cause of blindness, and by the year 2020 that number will reach 30.1 million. In addition, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of severe vision loss in Americans age 50 or older, affects an estimated 12 million people. Because most Americans are unaware of just how pervasive eye disease is, efforts to prevent, detect and treat these ailments before they progress to debilitating levels of vision loss aren’t as effective as they might be. Because AMD is barely perceptible in its early stages, it’s often left untreated until after vision loss sets in.

Getting regular eye exams, wearing sunglasses that block out UV light, controlling blood pressure, quitting smoking, staying active and consuming foods such as fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants may decrease the progression of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Dr. Aaron P. Weingeist, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

Healthy eyes are a product of good genetic makeup, adequate nutrition, and avoiding trauma. If you otherwise see well, have no strong family history of serious eye disease, have not had recent eye surgery or a serious injury, you should be able to maintain good eye health with a balanced diet and appropriate eye protection used during hazardous activities. No special supplements are required. A good rule of thumb to reduce eye fatigue is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer screen or the book you are reading for 20 seconds at an object that is 20 feet away. See your eye doctor for a complete baseline eye exam if you are 40 and do not have risk factors for eye disease, or if you are concerned about a specific problem.

Protection from eye injury is not the only step needed to preserve vision. You should also schedule regular eye examinations with your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to monitor vision and health in your functioning eye. If found and treated early, many eye diseases have little impact on your vision. By taking adequate steps to protect and monitor your vision, you can maintain an active lifestyle.

Your eyes work nonstop for you. They help you admire everything from movie trailers to Monet. Now it's payback time.

Thank your eyes for all they do by following the three peeper-protecting steps below. Your eyes will feel like they've had a fancy spa treatment. As a bonus, pricey creams and cucumber slices are not required.

  • Stay well watered. Your tear ducts—those tiny tubes that keep your eyes moist and lubricated—need ample H2O to do their job. So help keep them hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Get between the sheets. Adequate pillow time is key for reviving tired eyes. Your retinal membranes—like the rest of your body—need the night hours to recharge.
  • Quit the staring contests—with your computer, that is. Let the machine win. Too much screen time makes eyes tired and achy. Take at least one 10-minute break every 2 hours.

There are a number of things you can do to keep your eyes healthy:

  • Eat a healthy diet, especially foods with vitamin A, such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
  • Keep dirty hands away from the eyes.
  • Don’t share eye makeup.
  • Wear UV-treated sunglasses to protect the eyes from the rays of the sun.
  • Rest your eyes when reading or using the computer by looking away every 10 minutes or so.
  • Get regular eye exams.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.