Tip for taking care of your eyes

Hazel eye model

1. Sports-related eye injuries number at least 200,000 a year, with baseball, basketball, tennis, squash, and hockey players being the most susceptible. Flying wood chips, ricocheting nails, splashing paint thinner, flying debris while mowing the lawn — these are but a few of the dangers posed by do-it-yourself jobs at home. When you’re on the field, court, or working at home, wear protective glasses that protect you from the front and all sides. Glasses made of polycarbonate are the most impact resistant.

2. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you protect your eyes whenever you’re in the sun long enough to get a suntan or sunburn. Wearing a brimmed hat cuts sunlight exposure to your eyes by about half. Sunglasses will further boost your protection. The sun’s rays can also reflect off of water, sand, and snow, so it’s advisable to wear sunglasses in addition to a wide-brimmed hat in these environments.  Lens color has no bearing on level of UV protection, so be sure your sunglasses are labeled as providing protection from ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB) radiation.

3. Eyestrain, such as from reading or sewing, doesn’t really injure the eyes, but it makes them tired. To be exact, it isn’t really even the eyes that get tired or strained but the muscles around the eyes. Focusing on the computer for long periods of time can also cause tired eyes and cause discomfort, such as watery or dry eyes, difficulty focusing, fatigue, and perhaps an accompanying headache.  If you are bothered by long-lasting, frequently recurring eyestrain, you should see an eye-care professional to see if you require glasses for reading or the computer.

4. The major eye-disease risk for people with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, in which abnormal blood vessels grow across the retina, damaging and sometimes permanently destroying vision. Diabetic retinopathy afflicts about one-third of people with diabetes, typically after they’ve had diabetes for at least a decade. About 5 percent of people with diabetes end up losing their sight because of retinopathy. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in people younger than 60 years old in the United States and Canada. Diet, medication,exercise and close control of blood sugar levels are key to controlling diabetes and reducing the risks of retinopathy. High blood pressure increases the chances of developing retinopathy. Anyone with diabetes who’s at risk should be screened at least yearly for this eye disease, even if there are no vision symptoms. If caught early, advancement of retinopathy can sometimes be halted by laser treatments.

5. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that results in obscured vision, sensitivity to light and glare, fading or yellowing of colors, poor night vision and halos around lights. About half of Americans between ages 65 and 74 have cataracts but it can also occur in young people, even newborns whose mothers contracted German measles during pregnancy. Injury to the lens, prolonged use of corticosteroid drugs, and high doses of radiation (such as X rays) may also trigger the condition. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays, a part of sunlight, also boosts the risk of cataracts.  Sunglasses and glasses with UV protection helps to slow the progression of cataracts.

6. Glaucoma is an eye disorder caused by increased pressure within the eyeball, which builds up because fluids are unable to drain normally. You are at higher risk for glaucoma if you are black, have diabetes, have had a previous eye injury, have a family history of glaucoma or if you have been a long-term user of corticosteroid drugs. People at high risk should get an exam at least once every year.