Here are five points to keep in mind for optimal ocular health:
Get regular eye examsThe best thing you can do to keep your eyes healthy is to maintain a routine exam schedule. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends having a baseline eye exam at age 40 (sooner if you have a family history of eye disease or are having any issues) performed by a medically trained physician, and follow-up exams on a regular schedule as determined by the doctor. A professional eye exam should include a vision screening, eye pressure check and possible dilation to examine the inside of the eye.
Some medical diagnoses can affect your visionDiabetes, high blood pressure, auto-immune diseases and certain other diagnoses carry the potential to affect your vision, mainly depending on how well you control the disease and how long you’ve had it.
“Many times, there are no symptoms until advanced stages,” says Tanvi M. Shah, MD, a Comprehensive Ophthalmologist and Cataract Surgeon at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC). “Sometimes, you might experience inflammation, dryness or blurred vision from retinal swelling or cataracts. Patients with any of these diagnoses should see an eye doctor regularly and follow up as instructed to prevent or control further damage.”
Daily use of digital screens can affect your eyesIn today’s electronic age, it’s nearly impossible to get through the day without using a laptop, tablet, phone or other digital device, but too much screen time can cause eye strain, increased risk of myopia and the potential for dry eyes. If you spend a lot of time in front of an electronic screen, take breaks at 20-minute intervals and focus on something in the distance for at least 20 seconds to give your eyes a quick rest.
Don’t overuse over-the-counter dropsIt’s easy to squeeze in a few OTC drops when your eyes are feeling red and tired; just make sure to read the label and directions.
“The OTC drops I recommend most for regular use are artificial tears for lubrication,” Dr. Shah says. “OTC medications for red eyes tend to contain chemicals that create a white appearance, but don’t address the cause of the redness. And the redness can actually increase after you stop using the eye drops.”
For allergy-related eye redness and itching, Dr. Shah recommends looking for a product that includes an antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer.