Use this checklist to help improve your vision and eye health — and look forward to seeing a brighter, clearer future.
You also can print or read our abridged to-do list for healthier eyes.
Improve Your Eye Health
•Eat smart. Diet and nutritional supplements go a long way in promoting eye health. Studies show a diet rich in fruits, leafy vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids may reduce your risk of eye problems like macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome.•Get moving. Research has shown higher levels of physical exercise can reduce certain risk factors for glaucoma, as well as macular degeneration.•Quit smoking. Put simply, smoking harms your vision. Studies show smoking dramatically increases the likelihood of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, uveitis and diabetic retinopathy.•Use eyewear that blocks 100 percent of UV rays when outdoors.
•Protect your eyes from the sun (and make sure your kids do, too). Always wear sunglasses with UV protection when outdoors — no matter what time of year — to shield your eyes from UV rays. This may reduce your risk for cataract and macular degeneration.
•Schedule an eye exam for everyone in your family. Kids and seniors, especially, should have comprehensive annual eye exams to monitor vision changes. Also, have your family doctor screen you for diabetes and hypertension — if left untreated, these diseases can lead to serious eye problems.
•Start using safety eyewear for lawn-mowing, home repairs and other chores.Experts say 90 percent of eye injuries requiring a visit to the emergency room can be prevented with propersafety eyewear.•Properly care for your contact lenses. Dirty contact lenses, even if they are not uncomfortable, can cause serious eye infections. Clean your contact lenses and contact lens case properly, and always replace your contacts as recommended.•Reduce computer eye strain. Rest your eyes from computer work every 20 minutes to relievecomputer vision syndrome and avoid dry, red eyes. Also, ask your eye doctor about stress-relieving computer glasses.•Talk to your eye doctor. If you’ve been putting up with contact lens discomfort, dry eyes, eye allergies or blurry vision, talk to your doctor about changes you can make to improve or eliminate these problems. For instance, you could try daily disposable contact lenses.•Get downloading. If you own a mobile device, you can download eye-related apps — these include magnifiers, eye medication reminder tools and apps that let you try on "virtual" eyewear, to name but a few.•Take advantage of everything your vision benefits plan offers in 2013. Check your vision insurance carefully. In addition to eye exam coverage, some plans offer big discounts on eyeglasses, contact lenses and prescription sunglasses.
Improve Your Vision
•Blurriness? If your contacts or glasses are no longer doing their job, tell your eye doctor — you may need a new prescription.
•Upgrade your contact lenses. Contact lenses come in a wide variety of materials, replacement schedules and wearing times — not to mention the array of color contact lenses and special effect contacts available. With the advancement in contact lens technology, there’s sure to be a type of contact lens that suits your individual requirements and lifestyle.
•Try eyeglass lens coatings. Various lens coatings keep your field of view clear by reducing reflections, fogging and scratches. And eliminate glare during outdoor activities with polarized sunglasses.
•Consider sports-specific eyewear. For athletes and sporting enthusiasts, there are performance-enhancing frames and lenses designed specifically for different sports and outdoor activities. Make sure your sports eyewear includes lightweight, impact-resistant polycarbonate or Trivex lenses for comfort and safety.
•Learn about the latest low vision aids. Whether for you or someone you know, ask your eye doctor about the newest magnifiers. These and other low vision devices can help people with impaired vision get the most out of their remaining eyesight.
Improve Your Appearance
•Upgrade your eyewear. Get with the times and refresh your look, as well as take advantage of the latest in lens and frame technologies.•Time for new glasses? Modern styles can take years off your appearance.
•If you have a strong prescription, try high index eyeglass lenses. High index lenses provide the same optical power as regular ones, but are thinner and lighter.•Considering LASIK? If you’re tired of wearing glasses or contacts, ask your eye doctor if you are a good candidate for LASIK or other vision correction surgery.•Looking older than you feel? Consult a cosmetic eye surgeon. Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, corrects droopy and sagging eyelids and puffy bags under your eyes — giving you a fresher appearance and helping you look years younger.
Improve Your Karma
•Donate your old eyewear. Those old glasses may be worthless to you, but donating eyeglassesis priceless to someone with poor vision who cannot afford eye exams or eyewear.•Give to vision charities. Your contributions can provide sight-saving medicine, eye surgery andglasses to people in need around the world, giving the gift of sight to those in need.
by Dr. Wesdon McCann