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How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Your eyes likely aren’t the first thing you think about when it comes to maintaining your overall body’s health, but eyes play a major role in most everyone’s life. To help keep your peepers healthy and your vision at its best, follow these tips from the experts at the National Eye Institute:

Get a comprehensive exam. You might think that your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. Some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, some common eye diseases often have no warning signs and require an exam for early detection.

Know your family’s history. Talk to family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition, as many are hereditary. This’ll help determine if you’re at higher risk for developing an eye problem.

Eat right to protect your sight. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes, but eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables–particularly dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale or collard greens–is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown that there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. If you’re having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor.

Wear protective eyewear. This includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields and eye guards specially designed for doing certain activities around the home, playing sports or being on the job.

Don’t smoke. 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.

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 reduce eye strain.

Use contact lenses properly. If you wear contact lenses, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting them in or taking them out to avoid the risk of infection. Also make sure to disinfect the lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.

Be cool and wear your shades. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Use ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

For more information, consult your eye care professional.