May is National Vision Month

By Christina Reiter, BSN, CCN

When it comes to our health, we often visit our doctor or nurse regularly to make sure our bodies are healthy, but what about our eyesight? It’s not always on the top of our minds, but just as important, if not more, as the health of the rest of us. During 2016’s Healthy Vision Month, the National Eye Institute hopes to empower all Americans to make eye health a priority and strives to educate us all about steps we can take to protect our vision in the long run. Here are a few of their most important tips:

See your eye doctor every year to get a dilated eye exam.

Getting dilated eye exams on a yearly basis can detect problems early, when they’re easier to treat.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle. Specifically, a healthy lifestyle involves:

Maintaining 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.

Eat Right. Make it a priority to eat carotenoid-rich foods, such as deep colored root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes; fruits such as tomatoes; and dark-green leafy vegetables. These foods are known to increase your eyes’ defenses against oxidative damage and free radical conditions. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (and particularly those high in DHA), such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, keeping the blood from sticking to itself in excess.

Take a Good Quality, Broad-Spectrum Antioxidant. Talk to your clinical nutritionist or local pharmacist to point you in the right direction to find one appropriate for your needs. They can help you find an antioxidant that is rich in naturally-occurring antioxidants (as opposed to synthetic ones). Pharmaceutical-grade supplements supply antioxidants to augment what is perhaps deficient in the diet, but also found in nature. Naturally-occurring antioxidants are those the body recognizes and uses readily. Pharmaceutical-grade supplements have your best health-interests in mind, and often are less expensive than many “house brands” that chain stores or internet retailers who market direct to the consumer have in stock.

Stop Smoking. 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, cataracts, and optic nerve damage, deteriorating eyesight, stroke and eventual, total blindness.

Manage Chronic Health Conditions. Many conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis, can greatly impact vision, resulting in inflammation of the optic nerve, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and even blindness. Managing these conditions with the help of your family doctor or healthcare provider can often prevent these eye problems from occurring to begin with.

Know your Family History. If your grandma had glaucoma or your father lost his vision due to any number of strokes, you need to know about it. Talk to your relatives about what is known about your family and health history––you will have extra ammunition in your arsenal to prevent age- and disease-related eye problems from affecting your future years.

Protect your Eyes from the Sun’s Glare Every Day. Something as simple as wearing UV/UVB-filtering sunglasses during daylight hours can save you from developing cataracts and glaucoma. Every spike of sun that enters your dilated pupil can sear an everlasting mark on your retina, damaging the rods and cones of the area responsible for distinguishing object definition and color.

Celebrate Healthy Vision Month by making May the month you accomplish everything on this list. If you take these steps to ensure your eyes are healthy, you will be set for a lifetime. Don’t forget to share your experiences and spread the word to your family, friends, and colleagues. The more information that is known, the more empowered you will be!

At Texas Star Pharmacy we have many pharmaceutical-grade eye formulas to best suit your needs. Stop by today and speak with one of our qualified professionals.

Christina Reiter, BSN, CCN, is the Certified Clinical Nutritionist with TexasStar Pharmacy.