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Prize Your Peepers

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Care for your eyes, and see well into the future.

HealthCheckMarch2015Maybe you find yourself squinting at the newspaper through watery eyes. Maybe that stop sign looks a bit blurry on your drive to work. Maybe — just maybe — it’s been a while since your last eye exam.
The signs of declining eye health can be subtle. We often don’t notice eye problems until they interfere with our vision, at which point they may already have progressed. Do yourself a favor, and check in with your eyes using the list below!

KEEP YOUR EYES HEALTHY
Peer into your family history. Does your family have a history of eye conditions, like cataracts, glaucoma or retinal degeneration? Find out, and make sure to tell your eye-care professional, since, according to the Cleveland Clinic, genetic factors play a role in many types of eye disease.

Schedule regular eye exams. Even if you think your eyes are fine, it’s still important to get a dilated eye exam from an ophthalmologist at least once a year. Along with testing your vision, your doctor will dilate your pupils using special eye drops, and then look carefully into the back of the eye for signs of common eye diseases, like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration or diabetic eye disease.

Load up on eye-healthy foods. Unsurprisingly, foods that are beneficial for your body in general are also great for your eyes; think dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale. Foods with lots of omega-3 fatty acids, like tuna and salmon, also boost eye health. Flip to our Eat Smart column for more foods high in omega-3s!

Start eating better — and stop smoking. Being overweight or obese adversely affects your health in all sorts of ways, and your eyes are not exempt from damage. Weight-related systemic conditions, like diabetes, can lead to eye disease or vision loss.

If you smoke, quit. Smoking is associated with higher rates of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage.

Slip on some shades. Sunglasses don’t just make you look cool — they can also protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. When you’re debating which style looks best, choose a pair that blocks out 99 to 100 percent of UV radiation.

Take a break. Do you work at a computer? Every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds focusing on an object 20 feet away from you. This can help reduce eye strain. There are apps to help you remember! Try downloading F.lux (justgetflux.com) and ProtectYourVision (protectyourvision.org) for a winning combination.