Top 2 Tips to Protect Your Eyes
What’s worse than getting Alzheimer’s disease or cancer? Worse than losing a limb, your hearing, or your ability to speak?
Almost half of Americans, according to a national survey, say the answer is losing their sight.
Fortunately, there are some simple things we can do to take care of our eyes. Here are the top two tips I share with my patients.
1. Keep your eyes moist.
Dry eye is the most common issue among my patients. We all suffer some form of it. It’s caused by many factors. Aging is one, along with concentration activities like screen time and driving. Medications and environmental factors like pollution and allergens can dry the eyes also.
The most common symptoms include watery, itchy or burning eyes that cause discomfort. Dry eye can lead to blurred vision, further stress symptoms like headaches and fatigue, and, in some cases, corneal or ocular health breakdown.
Several simple early treatments can prevent later complications:
- Take more breaks while looking at a screen, a book or driving.
- Blink more.
- Use artificial tears 2-4 times per day, every day.
- Use a warm compress over closed eyes every day for 10 minutes.
2. Schedule regular eye exams.
Just because you can see well doesn’t mean your eyes are healthy. Even if you have 20/20 vision, you can have some serious eye issues – like early-stage glaucoma or a retinal lesion – without any symptoms.
Glaucoma has been nicknamed the silent thief because nerve damage and elevated eye pressure are usually not detected until the more advanced stages. By detecting the disease early, we can slow its progression and mitigate the damage.
Along with glaucoma, a routine eye exam can reveal other undetected diseases. For example, we can see signs of diabetes during an eye exam, often before symptoms appear elsewhere in the body. It’s interesting to note that researchers are currently working on ways to use retinal scans to early diagnose dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and early signs of cardiovascular problems.
Regular eye exams are important, preventative medicine – both for the eyes and the rest of the body. An exam every 1 to 3 years goes a long way in protecting this sense that we value so much.