Eyesight, one of the five basic human senses, is an integral and vital facet of existence. The eyes contain vastly complex systems that work alongside various other bodily functions and are responsible for more than just sight.
Thus, eye health is an important part of overall wellness. While most people take basic precautions to care for their health, they may not be considering specific ways to protect their eye health on a proactive basis.
Ophthalmologist Tom S. Chang MD, Founder of California’s Acuity Eye Group, touts the power of proactive eye care. By making a few lifestyle adjustments and taking proactive precautions, Chang notes that individuals can take an active role in their eye health.
Sun Safety For Eyes
Most individuals are aware of the various risks that UV exposure places on the skin. In recent decades, skin cancer awareness has greatly increased, allowing the general public to make informed and proactive choices about sun safety.
As Tom S. Chang MD points out, though, many people aren’t aware of the risks that UV exposure places on the eyes. Repeated unprotected exposure to UV rays can damage the retinas and increase the likelihood of cataract formation.
Proactively protecting the eyes from sun exposure and potential damage is very simple. Eye care expert Tom S. Chang MD recommends regularly wearing sunglasses that offer 100% UVA/UVB protection while outdoors.
It is especially important to remember that protective sunglasses should be worn regularly outdoors, even on cloudy days. Though it may not appear excessively bright or “sunny,” UV rays are still present.
To maximize long-term protection, children and teenagers should develop this healthy habit and make protective eyewear a regular part of their outdoor routine.
Physical Eye Protection
While sunglasses offer a physical barrier against UV rays, protective eyewear offers a physical shield against eye injuries in various situations.
Whether job-related or the result of a casual hobby, eye injuries can have devastating effects. Ophthalmologists like Tom S. Chang MD regularly treat patients who have suffered an ocular injury. In most cases, these physical injuries could have been prevented with the proper use of physical eye protection.
When knowingly engaging in any activity that could result in eye injury, Chang encourages individuals to wear protective eyewear. To maximize protection, Chang recommends wraparound styles that offer protection from particle entry at all angles.
This can greatly minimize the risks associated with particles like wood chips, metal scraps, chemicals, and other flying debris. For professionals who regularly utilize protective eyewear, Chang recommends choosing ANSI-approved goggles that have a Z87 rating.
Diet And Supplements
Adhering to a well-balanced diet increases overall wellness and has many profound and proactive health benefits.
While a generally healthy intake is a fantastic way to ensure overall wellness, maximizing eye health may require additional diet and supplement support. Though many healthy adults already take vitamins and try to be mindful of their eating habits, there are additional steps that can be taken to enhance eye health through diet and supplements.
Tom S. Chang MD recommends regularly consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as leafy greens and fish. To protect eye health, it is important to consume lutein and zeaxanthin (found in leafy greens), vitamin C, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and zinc.
For individuals who do not consume enough of these important minerals and vitamins via food, supplements may be considered to prolong eye health.
Speaking with your medical professional is an important step toward figuring out the most effective, safe, and proactive diet and supplement regimen.
Hydration And Eyes
Maintaining an eye-healthy diet is an integral part of proactively caring for eyes. Tom S. Chang MD regularly reminds individuals that water intake is equally important.
Proper hydration is good for overall health and wellness, but can also have eye-specific benefits.
Drinking upward of 8 glasses of water per day can elicit optimal tear quality; maintaining healthy fluid around the eyes ensures that they can properly protect against debris, wash away dust, and maintain comfort.
An eye-healthy diet is an integral part of maintaining long-term ocular wellness. In addition, several lifestyle choices can impact eye health.
While many eye conditions are age-related, their prevalence can be deterred, slowed down, or otherwise mitigated by maintaining healthy lifestyle choices. Tom S. Chang MD touts the importance of avoiding smoking.
Smoking increases the risk for early-onset cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. For existing smokers, there are various options available to promote smoking cessation and a wide breadth of health benefits associated with successfully refraining from smoking.
Touted for its many health-related benefits, regular exercise can also promote positive eye health. Specific to eye health, regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Physical exercise increases oxygen levels and improves blood circulation. Experts like Tom S. Chang MD recommend following a general exercise routine approved by medical professionals to maximize overall health while reaping eye-specific benefits.
Medical facets related to cardiovascular health also play an important role in ocular wellness. Thus, proactively taking care of heart-related matters can enhance eye health. High blood pressure can result in leaky vessels, which can lead to vision loss.
Thus, ensuring healthy blood pressure is integral to eye health. Additionally, high cholesterol levels can cause artery occlusion, which results in a sudden loss of vision. By proactively practicing healthy lifestyle choices and getting regular medical attention, cholesterol and blood pressure concerns can be appropriately managed.
Sleep is essential to overall health. When the body rests, vital organs have the opportunity to replenish themselves, while muscles regenerate. In the same vein, eyes receive the opportunity to replenish.
Consistent lack of sleep can strain eye operations, causing eye spasms, and dry eyes. Thus, maintaining a steady and healthy sleep schedule can minimize ocular issues associated with sleep deprivation and potentially ward off larger issues over time.
Annual Eye Health Visits With Tom S. Chang MD
Annual eye health exams are vital to maintaining . Eye conditions can change over time, and thus, it is important to continue to receive regular check-ups, even if eyesight is seemingly perfect.
Tom S. Chang MD touts the importance of comprehensive annual eye exams for all patients. These include a traditional vision exam, in addition to an eye health evaluation, which provides insight related to various potential ocular conditions and changes.
Many ocular conditions are genetic, providing a predisposition for disease based on family history. Thus, being informed of a family history of conditions like glaucoma, and macular degeneration, is important.
Tom S. Chang MD recommends proactively speaking with available relatives about family history of eye disease or gaining access to any pertinent records. Though extensive family history may not always be available, the presence of records can be helpful.
It is important to consider that many eye conditions do not elicit extensive symptoms during onset. Thus, the early detection of many ocular conditions may only be possible via an annual examination.
Early detection is key to maximizing outcomes and prolonging degeneration, rendering annual exams as the most important proactive measure that can be taken on a long-term basis.
Take Digital Eye Strain Seriously
As increasing numbers of individuals rely heavily on digital devices throughout everyday life, digital eye strain is affecting larger populations.
Digital eye strain is an umbrella term that describes symptoms related to prolonged exposure from blue light-emitting devices. These devices include laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
Common symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, and neck pain. While some symptoms may disappear after usage of devices is stopped, symptoms can sometimes linger, and become progressively increased.
To mitigate symptoms, tech-savvy Ophthalmologists like Tom S. Chang MD recommend that device users follow the 20/20/20 rule throughout the day.
Every 20 minutes, users are encouraged to take a 20-second break from their respective screen and to look at an object that is located 20 feet away.
In addition, there are various guidelines that can minimize digital eye strain such as positioning screens at optimal angles and distances from the eyes, and avoiding glare whenever possible.
Digital eye strain symptoms can also be exacerbated by improper prescriptions. Viewing computer screens puts additional strain on the eyes, so individuals with prescription vision correction need to ensure they have appropriate levels of correction to avoid further strain. Since blue light-emitting device usage has been preliminarily linked to an increased risk for macular degeneration, it is especially important to consider for patients already at risk.
For individuals who experience digital eye strain symptoms, an eye exam can determine the appropriate course of treatment. Blue light blocking lenses may be utilized during screen time to minimize digital eye strain.
With an estimated 50% of all employees experiencing digital eye strain, managing this seemingly new condition is now a part of overall eye health for many.
The Bottom Line From Tom S. Chang MD
Similar to other facets of health and wellness, proactively caring for one’s eyes can successfully ward off common eye health issues, and ensure long-term eye health. A generally healthy lifestyle can positively impact overall wellness.
With a few simple lifestyle changes, considerations, and additions, individuals can effectively impact their overall eye health. Tom S. Chang MD, Founder of multi-location Acuity Eye Health, educates patients about the importance of proactive eye health.
Chang regularly encourages patients to think of eye health as a journey, one that can be enhanced with proper attention to proactive care.