Remember when we all ushered in a new decade with hopes, dreams, and a laundry list of ambitious resolutions? 2020 was the year we were all going to lose weight, advance our careers, travel more, cry less. Little did we know that we’d all be wearing masks, working from home (with kids), getting fat on quarantine snacks, and scheduling a depression bath every day at 2 pm. After almost a full year of social distancing and googling symptoms of The ‘Vid, it’s hard to get excited about 2021. Sure, we all want the dumpster fire of 2020 to end, but is it going to get any better? Can we get a Billy Mays guarantee that this hot mess will be fixed with THE POWER OF OXICLEAN (...and vaccinations)?! Assuming that a (positive) change is on the horizon, it’s important to have some attainable New Year’s resolutions at the ready. Keep things simple and focus on what’s important. Here are ten New Year’s resolutions to protect your eye health. We’re eye doctors, what did you expect?
1. Schedule That Eye Exam! According to the Vision Council of America,75% of adults need vision correction and that number is steadily rising. Children aren’t safe either; the number of kids with myopia (nearsightedness) is growing faster than ever. This is particularly concerning since children with early onset myopia tend to experience a worsening of vision throughout their childhood. Early detection of myopia in children by way of an annual exam can help slow the progression of myopia and reduce their risk for eye problems later in life. For adults, annual eye exams do a lot more than detect blurry vision! Comprehensive exams are used to diagnose eye diseases, which may or may not have symptoms, and can also detect serious health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even cancer.
2. Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet.Don’t worry, this is not the same thing as a weight-loss resolution. No one is expecting you to lose 30 lbs in 30 days or to squeeze back into your old, pre-covid pants by the end of the year! A healthy, balanced diet is something we should all strive for, particularly if we are looking to maintain healthy vision. There are plenty of foods that can improve your eye health, such as leafy greens, fish, nuts, carrots, etc.! If you aren’t interested in eating like a rabbit, just add some eye-healthy ingredients to a few delicious recipes instead.
3. Buy Adequate Eye Protection.This should be the easiest resolution on the list! Buying a new pair of sunglasses is always enjoyable, but make sure that any purchase you make will actually protect your eyes (think safe AND stylish). The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends only buying lenses that screen out 75-90% of visible light and block out 99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays. A good pair of sunglasses can protect your eyes from cataracts, photokeratitis, macular degeneration, skin cancer, and even growths on the eye. Remember, sunglasses should be worn year-round and not just in the summer. Sports, home projects, and construction all require eye protection as well, so if you don’t have what you need, hit up those post-Christmas sales.
4. Quit Smoking Or Vaping.Smoking is bad for you in general, but in addition to trashing your lungs, smoking also increases your risk of developing age-related related eye diseases and can damage the optic nerve. If you think that vaping is any better, think again. Like smoking, vaping exposes users to many of the same chemicals associated with cigarettes (formaldehyde, nicotine, and diacetyl), therefore the risk of vision problems is the same.
5. Take Better Care Of Your Contacts.Do you wear contact lenses? It’s time to turn over a new leaf and actually start taking care of them (so stop spitting on them, you filthy animal). Taking proper care of your contacts means cleaning them with fresh multi-purpose solution, putting them in safely, replacing your contact lens case every three months or so, and avoiding tap water at all costs. Improper care of your contact lenses can lead to eye infections such as keratitis, a condition causing pain, inflammation, and scarring of the cornea.
6. Give Your Eyes A Break.With so many people working and studying from home, it’s important to give your eyes a break from the computer every now and then. The “20/20/20 Rule” is a good way to reduce eye strain; every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for about 20 seconds. If you or your children are suffering from dry eyes due to prolonged screen time, considering using some artificial tears. Blue light blockers are also a great way to protect your eyes from artificial light.
7. Practice Good Hygiene.If COVID-19has taught us anything, it’s that those meetings could have been emails the importance of basic hygiene. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water doesn’t just protect us from a worldwide pandemic, it also prevents dirt, dust, and bacteria from coming into contact with our eyes, eyeglasses, or contact lenses. Rubbing your eyes with dirty hands, sharing or sleeping in eye makeup, or not cleaning your contacts thoroughly is a highway to infectionville. Do better, be better.
8. Drink More Water.I know that beer and wine is what sustained us through 2020, but 2021 is a new year! Fluids protect the eye by washing away debris every time you blink, so staying well hydrated is important if you want to avoid dryness and irritation. To avoid dehydration, drink at least 8 glasses of water every day (think of it as an excuse to buy a cute new water bottle).
9. Get More Sleep.A good night’s sleep was a tall order in 2020, but all that needs to change in 2021. A lack of sleep leads to dry, itchy, and bloodshot eyes. The dryer the eye, the higher the risk of eye infections. Insufficient shut-eye is also responsible for those annoying eye twitches/spasms that drive us all crazy, so put your phone down and GO TO BED.
10. Keep Your House Clean.We’re not suggesting that you Marie Kondo your entire closet, but keeping your surroundings free from dust, debris, and pet dander can dramatically improve your eye health. Year-round eye allergies are extremely common, but many can be avoided by steering clear of the allergens that trigger the symptoms in the first place. This can look like routinely changing out your vents, using dehumidifiers, regularly mopping the floors, and changing your sheets or towels frequently.
Stick to your New Year’s resolutions... Book an appointment today!