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What Can I do to Help Protect My Eyes?

Dr. Z talks about a few steps you can do for preventative eye health.

I only have these two eyes can I protect them?

I really appreciate a question like this when I hear it from patients. I would rather spend some time talking about preventive health much more than try to manage potentially chronic conditions. Obviously, not every eye condition is preventable, but these are definite steps that can be taken for people to try to avoid sight threatening conditions from occurring in the first place.

I think my grandmother had........something wrong with her eyes

Knowing a detailed family history is the first step to letting your doctor know what potential eye health issues may be on the horizon. Many eye diseases show a strong family history, and even if there are no exam findings to indicate a disease is present, it can be a great help to know what may happen down the road. Two common eye diseases that are very strongly related to family history are glaucoma and age related macular degeneration. In the case of both of these diseases, there are certain imaging tests that can easily be performed in our offices to determine if any increased risk exists. I actually really like a patient to have these images taken before any signs of disease exists in order to have a healthy baseline to compare future images to. This lets us evaluate exactly what changes may have taken place over time, and what risk of future disease progression exists.

I was working on my car and something flew into my eye......and it hurts!

In my opinion, more than anything else, the easiest preventative health measure that can be taken is to WEAR SAFETY GLASSES! It may seem obvious, but I am always amazed by the things people do without safety glasses. I have seen pieces of metal in the eyes, rocks in the eyes, a weed trimmer cord hit the eye, a bungee cord hit the eye and so many other injuries that could have been prevented by just wearing safety glasses. The worst part about many eye injuries of this type is that they can cause permanent scarring of the clear cornea on the front of the eye. Even if the piece of metal is taken out, there is a risk of a permanent scar forming that will cause an irreversible reduction in vision. I love when people wear their fashionable frames, but these just are not safety equipment. A dedicated safety frame does not have to be stylish, but it has to be functional. All safety frames will have a designation on them with a label Z87.1 meaning that both the frame and lens have passed testing to ensure protection from high impact objects. No one ever thinks an eye injury will happen to them until it does!

You are what you eat!

A healthy diet heavily weighted towards fruits and vegetables is a great way to improve your eye health. The classic "eat your carrots" saying is not all bad, but it just does not go far enough. I recommend a diet full of dark green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, greens) to promote eye health. Two key nutrients found in these greens are lutein and zeaxanthin which are both very important for maintaining the health of the retina over time. Another key dietary component for maintaining eye health is omega 3 fatty acid. This has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, and it has also been shown to improve dry eye disease. This can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines. Many omega 3 supplements are also available, but these have not been shown to be as effective towards macular degeneration as food sources. These foods are great for your eyes, and with Austin's great food scene it should be easy to get out there and find some healthy food options that can specifically target your eye health.

Sunglasses don't just look cool.....they are great for your eyes!

With this intense Austin sun, I stress with patents all of the time about how important a pair of sunglasses can be for overall eye health. Long term exposure to sunlight without sun protection can contribute to many eye health conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration and pterygium. A good sunglass lens will block 100% UVA and UVB radiation and should provide full coverage to also block reflected rays off of the ground. You may think that those free sunglasses from a music festival are good enough, but many of these provide very little actual UV protection. All of the sunglasses we have at Optique will provide full protection, and we can help you find a frame that will not only look great, but will also help reduce the risk of serious eye problems down the road.

This would be my basic list of preventative health measures that every person can easily start to implement. Obviously this will not prevent everything, but starting good habits now could potentially reduce the risk of serious issues over the years. Please let the doctors at Optique know of any way we can help you start to follow these simple preventative health measures in order to keep your eyes healthy and seeing great!

-Dr. Z