Taking care of one’s eyes is a lifetime responsibility, but one that pays great dividends. Fortunately, eye care isn’t difficult, usually requiring no more than a little common sense and following four basic rules.
Rule #1 – Protect ‘em
When you’re outside, wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays. Exposure to UVA/UVB rays has been linked to both cataracts and macular degeneration, a condition that steals sight slowly, generally affecting people in their later years. Your sunglasses should block 99 percent of UVA/UVB rays. Consider purchasing wraparound sunglasses, which provide further protection.
Wear safety googles/safety glasses whenever you’re working with materials that may become airborne and injure your eyes. If you’re an athlete, wear appropriate eye protection for your sport.
Contact lens wearers must follow the specific hygiene instructions regarding cleaning, storage and insertion of their lenses. Never, ever place a lens in your mouth to “rewet” in and then in your eye! Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding lens replacement and report any irritation or difficulty wearing the lenses immediately.
If you smoke or use tobacco products, quit. Tobacco use is linked to development of cataracts, damage to the optic nerve and macular degeneration. If you’ve tried to stop smoking before with no luck, keep trying. On average, it takes up to 30 quit attempts for the daily smoker to finally stop for good. Talk to your doctor about strategies and medications that can help.
Rule #2 – Feed ‘em
A healthy, well balanced diet is essential. Choose foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E. These nutrients may help in preventing development of eye diseases later in life. Foods high in these nutrients include:
• Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards
• Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish
• Eggs, nuts, beans, and other nonmeat protein sources
• Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices
• Oysters and pork
Maintaining a healthy weight can help you avoid diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Just about every body system – including the eyes – benefits from physical activity and exercise. Something as easy as a 30-minute walk every day can help.
Rule #3 – Set ‘em up for success
If your job requires a lot of computer use or close-up work, you’ll want to make sure your glasses/contacts prescription is up to date and appropriate for the type of work you’re doing. For computer work, move the screen so your eyes are level with the top of the monitor. This will position you to look down slightly at the screen. Situate the monitor so that there’s no glare from lights or windows. If you can’t move the monitor, purchase an anti-glare screen to help.
For close-up work, consider investing in magnifying lenses that will reduce the strain on your eyes.
Take an “eye break” every 20 minutes: Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Get up at least every two hours and take a 15-minute break.
Rule #4 – Check ‘em
Everyone should have their eyes examined periodically. Babies should have their eyes checked at six months, around three, and before entering kindergarten/first grade. If there are no problems, checkups should continue every two years. If the child requires vision correction, exams should happen annually.
Adults should have their eyes examined every two years. More frequent eye exams may be recommended, based upon overall health and any vision problems that might exist. Persons with diabetes should have their eyes examined at least once a year.
The following conditions should be checked out promptly, even if it’s only been a few months since your last eye exam:
• Bulging of one or both eyes
• Dark curtain or veil that blocks your vision
• Decreased vision, even if temporary
• Distorted vision
• Double vision
• Excess tearing
• Eyelid abnormalities
• Halos (colored circles around lights)
• Injury to the eye
• Loss of peripheral (side) vision
• Misaligned eyes
• New floaters (black “strings” or specks in the vision) and/or flashes of light
• Pain in the eye
• Motion sickness, dizziness or trouble following a moving object with your eyes
• Any change in vision, especially if it follows a head injury
Where to turn
The medical professionals who provide care for the eyes are called ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists are licensed physicians who have graduated from an accredited medical school and completed residency training (and sometimes a fellowship) in ophthalmology. Ophthalmologists can prescribe eye glasses and contacts to correct poor vision; diagnose and treat medical conditions affecting the eyes; and perform surgery to treat conditions such as cataracts, drooping eyelids, and detached retinas.
Is it time for you to start taking better care of your sight? Tri-State Ophthalmology has been providing comprehensive eye care for people Ashland, Boyd County and surrounding areas since 1963. Ophthalmologists John Gross, M.D., and Carter Gussler, M.D., have more than 50 years of experience treating everything eye related, from routine eye exams to surgical procedures.
Whether you’re noticing some vision changes, or it’s just time for a “routine” check-up, Tri-State Ophthalmology welcomes you.
The practice is located at 2841 Lexington Ave., in Ashland. New patients are always welcome; a physician referral is not required. For more information, visit Tri-State Ophthalmology on the web at tri-stateeyes.com. Or call the office at (606) 324-2451.