May is a beautiful month, and we all enjoy spending more time outside enjoying the longer days and the beauty of late spring. The National Eye Institute (NEI) has also declared May to be Healthy Vision month to stress the importance of the health of our eyes. When you have good vision, it can be easy to take your eyesight for granted, but your eyesight is precious and should be properly cared for.

As we age, our risk for developing potentially sight-threatening eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts increases, but even younger people can experience vision loss from diabetes and high blood pressure. In honor of Healthy Vision month, we will share some steps you can take to maintain your eye health and vision.

Eat more eye-healthy foods.

Proper nutrition is an important part of taking care of your eyes and vision. Aim to eat plenty of fruits and colorful or dark green vegetables, such as squash, kale, spinach, and collard greens. According to the American Optometric Association, researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain serious eye diseases like age-related macular degenerationand cataracts. You can find these antioxidants in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and a lot of other foods.  

Get regular exercise.

Regular exercise has many benefits for your physical and mental health. When you exercise at least three to four times each week, you can experience a decrease in stress, improve your heart health, and benefit your eye health. If you have diabetes, getting and staying active is an important part of managing the disease. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a sight-threatening eye disease called diabetic retinopathy. Exercise can also help you if you have high blood pressure, because exercise can make your heart stronger. High blood pressure can damage your eyes, so getting it under control is important for maintaining healthy eyes and vision.

Know your family health history.

Some eye diseases have a genetic component, such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. Ask your extended family whether there’s a history of these diseases in the family and be sure to share that information with your doctor at Accent Vision Care at your next comprehensive eye exam.

Don’t smoke.

Smoking can be a difficult habit to break, but it is terrible for your physical health, and that includes your eye health. If you smoke, you have an increased risk for glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking can also make symptoms of dry eye disease even worse. If you smoke, work on a plan to ditch this habit for good.

Protect your eyes from the sun.

Here in Louisiana, we get plenty of sunshine. The sunlight can make us feel happy but the UV rays from the sun can also damage our eyes over time if we don’t consistently protect them. It is important to protect your eyes from those UV rays by wearing quality sunglasses that block 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays. Everyone needs to wear quality sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun, including adults, children, and babies.

Wearing quality sunglasses will also make your eyes feel more comfortable when you’re spending time outside and offer improved clarity so you can have clear vision no matter what you’re doing. We have options for sunglasses and lenses which can give you improved comfort and clarity if you’re fishing, at the beach, or driving.

Wear protective eyewear when appropriate.  

Those of you who work in a manufacturing environment already understand the importance of wearing safety glasses to protect your eyes from injury, but don’t forget to wear protective eyewear when you’re doing chores around the house, yard work, or do-it-yourself home projects, either. Eye injuries sustained at home are far too common. If you play sports, wear the appropriate eyewear to protect your eyes, and if your kids play sports, make sure their eyes are protected, too. Protecting your eyes from injury is one of the best and simplest things you can do to maintain your eye health and vision.

Pay attention to changes in your vision.

If you notice you aren’t seeing things as well as you used to, schedule an appointment with the doctors at Accent Vision Care. It could simply mean you need an updated prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, but there may be other issues causing the change in your vision which can only be diagnosed in an eye exam. If you see a drastic increase in the number of eye floaters, have sudden eye pain, or see flashes of light, call us right away as these can be symptoms of serious problems which need immediate attention.

Get regular comprehensive eye exams.

Many people feel that if their vision is fine, they don’t need to have regular eye exams, but many eye diseases have little to no symptoms in the early stages, and the only way to catch them early is through an eye exam. Your eye doctor can also spot issues which may be happening elsewhere in your body during a comprehensive eye exam, because your eyes offer them a look at your blood vessels, so comprehensive eye exams are an important part of your overall health care.

If it’s been a while since your last comprehensive eye exam, please schedule an appointment with us. The doctors at Accent Vision Care are devoted to providing expert eye health care to families in Gonzales and surrounding communities and look forward to helping you maintain your eye health and vision.