How healthy are your eyes? For many of us, they’re just like your teeth: Out of sight, out of mind, until some problem develops. But many eye diseases don’t give early warning signs that tell you it’s time to go see a doctor — so by the time you realize something is wrong, permanent damage has already been done. The following preventative steps can help you save your eyesight, and detect any potential problems as early as possible:
Know Your Medical History
Not only do many eye conditions arrive without warning signs, they can also be hereditary. Knowing your family members’ history of eye health is the first step in determining which eye diseases you might be at elevated risk for.
Wear Eye Protection
Everybody loves the sun — but too much of it shining directly on your eyes can speed the development of cataracts. For the best protection, wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. You should also protect your eyes with shatter-resistant protective eyewear when doing sports, shop activities like carpentry, or any other activity that involves moving parts, chemicals, or potential projectiles.
Smoking and excessive alcohol use can both speed the development of age-related macular degeneration, in which you retain your peripheral vision but lose the ability to distinguish fine details in your central vision. Excessive alcohol use is also a risk factor for cataracts. For your eye health, it’s best to moderate your alcohol use and avoid smoking entirely.
Treat your eyes — and the rest of your body — by eating lots of leafy greens and brightly colored fruits and vegetables at every meal. The vitamins and minerals go a long way toward maintaining optimal eye health. As a bonus, eating healthy also reduces your risk of developing diabetes, which can increase your risk of eye problems like glaucoma.
Have Regular Screenings
Last but not least, see your eye doctor for regular screenings. Your doctor is in the perfect position to detect and treat the early stages of eye diseases that might crop up with no exterior warning signs, and they can also recommend the best preventative practices to suit your personal circumstances. Even if your vision is otherwise perfect, getting a baseline exam at age 40 will help detect the early warning signs of age-related changes as time goes on.: