August is Healthy Vision Month, also known as National Eye Exam Month. A lot of people with normal vision don’t think they need to have regular eye exams. But an eye exam that includes having your eyes dilated can reveal a lot. In addition to making sure you don’t need a little help from glasses or contact lenses, a comprehensive eye exam will detect relatively common and often symptom-free eye diseases like glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). For most people, eye exams are recommended every year to two years.
To keep your eyes healthy, NEI also advises:
*Eat properly. Being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. Fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens, are specifically good for your vision. Studies also show benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.
*Don’t smoke. Smoking has been linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
*Manage chronic conditions. If you have an chronic condition such as diabetes or hypertension, keep up with your appointments and medication.
*Know your family history. Many eye diseases are hereditary.
*Wear protective eyewear if necessary. Whenever you mix color and handle other chemicals at the salon, you’re probably careful not to splash it near your eyes. Still, wearing goggles can’t hurt! If you play a contact sport, protective eyewear will decrease your risk of having one of the eye injuries that come into American ERs every 13 minutes.
*Wear sunglasses. An estimated 20 percent of cataracts are caused by extended UV exposure, according to NEI. Other serious eye conditions, too, can be traced to sun damage.