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Protecting your peepers during Healthy Vision Month and beyond

Protecting your peepers during Healthy Vision Month and beyond

The phrase may be “the ayes have it,” but in honor of Healthy Vision Month, we’re changing it to “the eyes have it.” Learn how you can take care of your eyes and protect your vision.

While you might not think about your eye health daily, your eyes are always putting in the work for you. Putting in a little work for them with some healthy lifestyle habits can help you keep your eyes functioning at their best for the long run.

Shining a light on Healthy Vision Month

Healthy Vision Month was established by the National Eye Institute in 2003. Each year, the awareness month focuses on a different aspect of eye health, with this year’s theme focused on how vision loss can impact mental health.

The observance month is marked each May, so why are we celebrating in July? We have a good reason! Your eye health deserves attention year-round—and the American Academy of Ophthalmology marks a different eye-related observance every month.

We’re spreading the word in July because eye injuries are particularly common during this month as we celebrate Independence Day with fireworks. Nearly 20% of all fireworks injuries affect the eyes, causing chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and even retinal detachment, which are all potential sources of vision loss.

The good news is that you can prevent eye injuries and take other steps to protect your vision, during Healthy Vision Month and beyond.

Your guide to protecting your eyes

Most people believe they aren’t at risk of eye diseases, but the reality is very different. By the year 2030, age-related macular degeneration will affect nearly 4 million Americans, glaucoma will affect more than 4 million, and an estimated 11.4 million people in the U.S. will have diabetic retinopathy, according to the National Eye Institute.

Knowing that every person can potentially develop an eye disease, do what you can to lower your risk. These five habits can make a big difference:

  1. See an eye care professional regularly. The National Eye Institute recommends that everyone over age 60, African Americans over 40 or anyone with a family history of glaucoma have a dilated eye exam every one to two years. Regular eye exams are also important for children and younger adults.
  2. Practice healthy lifestyle habits. Move your body regularly and eat a diet filled with colorful fruits and other eye-healthy foods such as leafy greens. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish and flaxseed, can also be helpful for keeping your eyes healthy.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. What does your weight have to do with your eyes? A lot, actually. When you maintain a healthy weight, you’re at a lower risk of developing diabetes and other conditions that can lead to vision loss. Talk with your primary care provider about what a healthy weight looks like for you.
  4. Wash, wash, wash your hands. Germs such as bacteria and viruses often enter the body when we touch our faces with unwashed hands. Wash your hands often using soap and water and be careful not to touch your eyes without washing your hands first.
  5. Wear the right eye gear. Headed out into the sun? Pop on a pair of sunglasses containing UV protection. Playing sports? Wear protective eyewear to keep your eyes safe on the court or field. The same goes for if you’re mowing the lawn or using chemicals to clean the house.

If you have any known risk factors for vision loss, such as diabetes or a family history of certain eye diseases, talk with your primary care provider or an eye care professional about other steps you can take to protect your eye health.

When it comes to healthy vision, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way. Check on your health by scheduling an appointment with your primary care provider!