Did you know an estimated 61 million Americans are at high risk for serious vision loss? Or that every 13 seconds, someone in the United States goes to the hospital for a sports-related injury? Our eyes are not always top of mind, but they’re important!
May is Healthy Vision Month, an observance coordinated by the National Eye Institute (NEI) under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), dedicated to empowering Americans to make their eye health a priority and educating them about steps they can take to protect their vision.
Get a dilated eye exam. When it comes to common vision problems, many people don’t realize their vision could be improved with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases have no symptoms. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.
Live a healthy lifestyle. Almost everything we do affects our eyes, so it’s important to live a healthy life. To keep our vision healthy, it is important to:
- Eat healthy foods, especially dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, halibut, and tuna.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss.
- Don’t smoke. It’s as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body.
- Manage chronic conditions. Many conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis, can greatly impact vision and result in inflammation of the optic nerve, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and even blindness.
Know your family history. Eye health can be hereditary, so it’s important to talk to your family members about their eye health history. Knowing your family history will help you determine whether you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease.
Use protective eye wear. Eye injuries can happen at work, while playing sports, and when doing chores around the house. Prevent those injuries from happening by using protective eyewear! Look for safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, or eye guards made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics.
Wear sunglasses. The sun’s rays can damage your eyes, so make sure to wear your shades! When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.
Celebrate Healthy Vision Month by taking these steps today! Then encourage your family and friends to make their vision a priority by helping NEI spread the word. Here are some ideas:
- Share information on social media using our prewritten content.
- Post NEI’s infocards to your Facebook page and Twitter feed.
- Change your Facebook cover photo to Healthy Vision Month cover photos that highlight steps for taking care of your eyes.
We hope you’ll join in the celebration! And don’t forget to protect your eyes today to see well for a lifetime. For more information on Healthy Vision Month, or to find out how you can get involved, please visit nei.nih.gov/hvm.