It’s easy to forget the precautions and maintenance required to defend your eyes from injury, disease, or infection. With a better grasp on the relationship between overall health and eye health, it will become natural to remember to protect and take care of your eyes.
At Premier Medical Associates, we have a large range of specialists under our network to provide our patients with a truly comprehensive model of care. Eye care is an integral part of that model, and our ophthalmology team is committed to helping you keep your eyes healthy.
These 4 tips for taking care of your eyes will provide both generalized knowledge and specific advice for individuals who are at a uniquely heightened risk of developing an eye related condition.
Protect Your Eyes
Even minor eye injuries can be quite painful and debilitating. It’s not always easy to know when eye protection is necessary, especially when it is so common to see individuals neglect eye protection when they are at risk. There are several different environmental factors that can harm your eyes:
Pop on your favorite shades because sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays reach our eyes, and too much time in the sun can cause damage that leads to a number of potentially serious eye conditions. Be careful to make sure you purchase sunglasses that protect from both UVA and UVB radiation.
If you plan on doing some home repairs or if you work in construction, safety glasses or goggles will protect your eyes from the particulates that are generated by power tools and other construction processes.
Wear safety glasses or another form of protective eyewear if you are using aerosol-based cleaning products or products like bleach, which can become aerosolized if they are diluted. These chemicals can cause significant and even permanent damage to eyes and lungs.
Give Your Eyes A Rest
When reading or working on a computer, our blink rate decreases by as much as 66%. If your job requires you to work on a computer for any significant period of time, it’s important that you develop an eye-break routine.
For example, regularly look away from your screen and focus on something further away every 15-20 minutes. This transition of focus from something very close (your computer screen) to something further away helps reduce eye strain by recalibrating your blink rate. You can also try to keep your space full of sufficient but diffused lighting to limit eye strain.
If you wear contact lenses, you might notice that your eyes begin to feel dry and fatigued near the end of the day. Contacts should not be worn for more than sixteen hours in a single day, but you may find that even that is too much. It’s a good idea to have a pair of glasses on hand for these moments. Glasses allow you to give your eyes a rest while still enabling you to see and go about your day.
Know Your Personal Risks
Depending on your lifestyle or family history, you may be more likely to develop a range of different eye conditions that can be relatively minor or potentially quite serious. Sharing this history with your ophthalmologist gives them the ability to cater their treatment to your personal needs.
There are many different eye diseases and conditions that are, to varying degrees, hereditary. Understanding your family's eye health history will inform you on what conditions or diseases you may be more susceptible to and the early symptoms you should look out for.
If you are a smoker, there’s more to worry about than just your lungs. You are twice as likely to develop eye or vision problems like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and three times more likely to develop cataracts.
The most effective advice is to cease smoking, but for many people, that is easier said than done. If you continue to smoke, it is vital that you find an ophthalmologist near you. There are no early warning signs of age related macular degeneration, but the sooner this eye disease is spotted by eye care specialists, the more effective your treatment will be.
If you have diabetes, you are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which is a serious condition that can cause vision loss and even blindness. However, according to the CDC, 90% of blindness caused by diabetes is preventable.
The best way to avoid diabetic retinopathy is to regularly see an ophthalmologist and to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the severity of your diabetic condition.
Wearing Contact Lenses
If you're among the ranks of contact lens wearers, you are at a higher risk of developing an eye infection because your lenses, lens case, and hands can carry bacteria if they aren’t properly maintained.
To avoid infection when you wear contacts, always wash your hands before putting in your contacts or taking them out. If you wear reusable contacts, be sure to follow your eye doctor’s maintenance routine and replace them when instructed.
Understand That Overall Health Is Essential To Eye Health
If you are overweight, you are more likely to develop diabetes and consequently diabetic retinopathy. However, being healthy involves more than just maintaining a healthy weight. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables (particularly dark leafy greens), and Omega-3 fatty acids (found in many fish like salmon or halibut) is linked to better eye health, as well as better health overall.
Additionally, staying physically active will allow you to avoid many of the conditions and diseases that can develop into comorbidities that affect the eyes and body.
Receive a Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam
While it’s important to follow these eye care tips at home, nothing can replace the professional medical advice you receive during a consultation with an ophthalmologist.
If you haven't seen an eye doctor in some time or are looking for an eye doctor in Pittsburgh, the eye care specialists at Premier Medical Associates are happy to be your source for maintaining healthy vision.
Premier Medical Associates is an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network and is the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Our highly experienced care team provides services like eye care and primary care for you and your loved one’s needs. Visit our Monroeville office or call us at 412-457-0422 for more information.