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All the way back in 2003, the National Eye Institute (NEI) chose May to be Healthy Vision Month in an effort to encourage Americans to prioritize eye health and safety. At first glance 2003 doesn’t seem to be too long ago, but so far we’ve celebrated Healthy Vision Month 19 times including this month.
Now that I’ve likely made you feel old, here’s a short list of tips to encourage overall eye health.
Table of Contents:
1. Diet and Suggested Nutrients
As we all know, healthy foods are important for much more than just eye health. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet promotes better overall health, as well as a plethora of other benefits. We’re certainly not implying that a balanced diet will prevent everything, but there are numerous benefits to reap from a well-structured and monitored diet.
According to WebMD.com, some of the nutrients directly tied to eye health are:
Found in fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, kale, and strawberries. The recommended daily allowance for men is 90mg, and 70mg for women. 1 large orange typically contains around 97mg.
Found in eggs, meat, nuts, and whole grains. The recommended daily allowance for men is 11mg, and 8mg for women. 100 grams (1 cup) of cashews typically contains around 5.5mg.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin:
Found in vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli. There currently is not a recommended daily allowance for lutein or zeaxanthin. Although there is not an official RDA, professionals suggest daily intake of around 10mg of lutein, and 2mg per day of zeaxanthin.
Found in crab, fish, poultry, and wheat. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 55mcg. Note that this particular nutrient is recommended at a dose using mcgvs mg. 3 ounces of chicken typically contains around 22mcg.
Thiamine (also known as Vitamin B1):
Found in yeast, beans, nuts, and various meats. The recommended daily allowance for men is 1.2mg, and 1.1mg.
Found in both vegetables and fruits, such as spinach, broccoli, lemons, and bananas. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 400mcg. Note that this particular nutrient is recommended at a dose using mcg vs mg.
One cup of cooked spinach typically contains around 263mcg.
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Found in fish, dairy products, and some grains/vegetables.
There is currently no recommended daily allowance for omega-3 fatty acids.
Some professionals recommend 1,000mg per day.
The recommended serving of fish is 3.5 ounces cooked.
Of course, getting 100% of every recommended nutrient isn’t always possible or likely.
Even on days where someone’s diet is spot on, they might miss a few things. Thankfully, supplements are available nearly everywhere and can help reduce days where recommended amounts aren’t reached.
Similar to a healthy diet, general exercise can bring forth numerous benefits both related to vision and not. Several studies over the past decade have linked regular exercise to reduced risk for ailments such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the three most common exercise activities between 2011-2015 were walking, weightlifting, and running. In 2020/2021, yoga and mountain biking/cycling have seen a rise in popularity as social distancing and at-home exercise took priority for many.
Although these may be some of the most popular, choose an exercise that works well for you. Whether it’s simply walking for a few minutes a day or playing your favorite sport with some friends, each action counts!
3. Visit Your Optometrist
Visiting your optometrist as recommended and having your eyes checked is one of the most proactive steps in preventing, treating, and discovering eye ailments.
According to www.mayoclinic.com, adults typically should visit an optometrist for an eye check:
- Every five to 10 years in your 20s and 30s
- Every two to four years from 40 to 54
- Every one to three years from 55 to 64
- Every one to two years after age 65
Of course there are factors that may require more frequent visits:
- Wearing glasses/contacts
- Having history or family history of eye ailments or vision loss
- Regularly take medicine that impacts your eyes
If these apply, or a doctor recommends it, visit your optometrist/ophthalmologist on a more frequent basis.
4. Quit Smoking
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 34.3 million Americans still smoked in 2017. While the overall amount of smokers has decreased greatly since prior years, smokers continue to put themselves at risk to innumerable amounts of diseases, issues, and complications.
Being upfront, we’re sure smokers are aware of the issues that are related to the habit.
Nevertheless, as far as eyes, smokers are more likely to be impacted by:
- Dry eye
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Optic nerve problems
- Graves’ disease (symptoms include bulging eyes, possible vision loss)
-American Academy of Ophthalmology
5. Make Use of Hats, Sunglasses, and Eye Protection
While this tip is self-explanatory, protecting your eyes starts with YOU. No matter if it’s sports, yard-work, or maybe a car project, take the extra step to preserve your vision.
Two simple ways to avoid the risk of eye injuries are to simply protect and cover. These two terms may sound a bit drastic, but in reality are easily practiced.
Protect your eyes. If you’re working on a project, consider wearing safety glasses. You never know when something can slip, splash, or fall.
Cover when appropriate. Whether this cover is provided by a hat, or by UV protected sunglasses, your eyes will be less impacted by bright sunlight.
While May is technically Healthy Vision Month, the related steps and prevention takes place year round.
These steps, while a great starting point, do not encompass the entirety of eye health.
Be sure to talk with your optometrist regarding other important steps to keep your vision pristine for years to come.