National Eye Institute’s advice on avoiding visual impairment and blindness
The following is a modified version of the National Eye Institute’s advice for preserving
Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least every two years
Many people think that their vision is fine but don’t realize that they could see better
with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as
glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration often have no
warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their
early stages when they are the most treatable.
Know your family’s eye health history
It’s important to know if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with an eye
disease or condition because some are hereditary.
Healthy eating helps protect sight
A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as
spinach, kale, or collard greens, will help keep eyes healthy, as will fish such as
salmon, tuna, and halibut that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.12
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing diabetes and other systemic
conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.
Wear protective eyewear to prevent injuries
There are an estimated 30,000 sports-related eye injuries in the U.S. each year, with
80% occurring in males. The most frequent cause is the result of playing basketball,
baseball, or softball, as well as injuries from paintball and air guns.13 Wear protective
eyewear when playing sports or engaged in activities around the home. Protective
eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards
specially designed to provide the correct protection for a specific activity. Most
protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger
than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some
sporting goods stores.
Practice workplace eye safety
Employers are required to provide a safe work environment. When protective eyewear
is required as a part of your job, make a habit of wearing the appropriate type
at all times, and encourage your co-workers to do the same.
Quit smoking or never start
Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has
linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration,
cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.14 15
Sunglasses help to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing
sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
Both adult and children’s sunglasses should be labeled “UV absorption up
to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” and block at least 99% of UV rays.
Those labeled “cosmetic” block about 70% of UV rays. Sunglasses without a label
may not provide any UV protection. UV protection comes from an invisible chemical
in or applied to the lenses, not from the color or darkness of the lenses. However,
exposure to the UVB in sunlight in childhood may help prevent the growing
epidemic of nearsightedness.16
Give your eyes a rest
If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes
forget to blink, and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every
20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help
Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly
To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in
or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed
and replace them as appropriate.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.