By Arielle Sidrane
The sun slowly setting over the clear blue ocean in the Caribbean, your spouse’s bright smile, a vibrant rainbow after a violent storm, and a baby’s first wobbly steps — they’re all sights to behold, and we wouldn’t want to miss them. Proper eye-care is an essential component of wellness, yet so many of us neglect to think about it on a daily basis.
Always looking out for you, Spa Week consulted revered NYC optometrist Dr. Gary Tracy, a lecturer for the American Optometric Association (Fun fact: He treated John Lennon!) for 10 essential eye care tips to maintain healthy vision:
1. Wear optical-quality sunglasses
Exposure to the sun increases the chance of cataracts and macular degeneration, and can also lead to skin cancer around the eyes. Wear quality, name brand sunglasses to be sure that the most harmful rays are blocked — “knock off” sunglasses often come with inferior lenses.
2. Eat your greens
…Especially kale, collard greens, broccoli and spinach — all are rich sources of lutein, a natural substance that absorbs harmful wavelengths of light and protects the eyes from macular damage.
3. Make sure your diet is rich in Omega-3s.
Omega-3s help prevent dry eye conditions and have anti-inflammation qualities that help in protecting the retina from the effects of ultraviolet light exposure. Salmon and flax seed oils are great sources, as well as almonds and walnuts.
4. Have a regular eye examination.
Some diseases that can lead to blindness are symptom-free until they reach an advanced stage. Glaucoma, for example, is a relatively common disease that may take years to develop before enough irreversible optic nerve damage occurs that one can notice. Annual eye examinations can be instrumental in detecting eye problems in their earliest stages, before vision is lost.
5. Don’t smoke
Smoking dramatically increases the risk of eye diseases. Healthy eyes require a constant supply of oxygen, and nicotine in the blood reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the eyes.
6. Keep diabetes under control
Diabetes is especially devastating to the eye. If not controlled properly, it can cause a variety of sight threatening problems. Diabetes, in some cases, can even be detected by viewing the blood vessels that are found on the inner surface of the retina. So if you’ve been diagnosed, or are at risk, take the recommended precautions by your doctor to avoid complications that may affect your vision in the future.
7. Keep your blood pressure under control.
Your eyes have an elaborate blood supply chain that passes through a delicate network of blood vessels. High blood pressure leads to higher rates of retinal hemorrhages, as well as artery and vein occlusions.
8. Control your cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol can cause plaques to develop on blood vessels that may block the blood supply to areas of the retina.
9. If you wear contact lenses, get eye exams more often.
Contact lens wearers are at greater risk for eye infections, dry eyes and other complications. Comprehensive and regular eye exams will minimize these risks. The doctor that fit and prescribed your contact lenses should be examining your eyes on a regular basis. He will determine this interval according to how often you wear your lenses, and if there are any underlying issues that he wants to monitor.
10. Don’t Use Visine or similar “get the red out” eye drops too frequently.
Don’t overuse these drops! Your eyes can become even redder when you stop using them. These products get the red out by constricting blood vessels and reducing the natural blood flow that is occurring to treat the irritation that is causing the eye to become red in the first place. It’s OK to use these drops on a very limited basis, but not regularly.
Now you have no excuses not to take care of your vision. So go out and book your next eye doctor appointment, invest in a quality pair of sunglasses, head to your nearest Stop & Shop to stockpile spinach and kale, and of course book a massage to control that blood pressure ;). You know what they say; the eyes are windows to the soul, so you want to make sure yours are in tip-top shape (no fog!) so the world can see in clearly.