Eye HealthLifestyle Topics
Smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts – quit or avoid smoking to help keep your eyes healthy.
Know Your History
Those with a family history of eye disease are at a greater risk for developing eye diseases or conditions themselves.
Water & Contacts Don’t Mix
To help prevent eye infections, contact lenses should be removed before going swimming or in a hot tub.
It's Not OK to Skip a Day
To control glaucoma, take eye drops exactly as prescribed by your ophthalmologist—your sight depends on it.
Give your Eyes a Break
To prevent computer eyestrain, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Know Your Eye Care Team
Make sure you are seeing the right eye care provider for your condition or treatment.
Are You Fit at 40?
A baseline eye exam is recommended at age 40, when the signs of disease and change in vision may start to occur.
Babies and Children
Learn about specific nutrition and exercise by age and stage for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, kids, and teenagers recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Encouraging good eating and exercise habits with kids sets patterns they’re likely to stick to their entire lives
Foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are good for eye health as well as general health, according to the Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS), funded by the National Eye Institute, and other research. These nutrients are linked to lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract and dry eye later in life. Choosing healthier foods is a good thing no matter how early or late in life we begin.
Eye-healthy food choices include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold water fish.
People who have diabetes or AMD or are at risk for these diseases can also benefit by following a low-glycemic (low-GI) index diet. Most people with diabetes, and others who have used a low-GI diet to lose weight, are familiar with glycemic index charts. The GI value is based on how fast a food’s carbohydrates raise the body’s blood sugar levels; low GI foods have less impact on blood sugar fluctuations.
People with AMD may be able to slow the progression of the disease by taking a special nutrient supplement called the AREDS formula, developed as a result of the AREDS research (described above). The formula includes:
- Vitamin C (500 mg);
- Vitamin E (400 IU);
- Beta-carotene (15 mg);
- Zinc oxide (80 mg); and
- Copper oxide (2 mg).
This is promising news for people who are at risk for or already have AMD. But before stocking up on these supplements, be sure to talk with your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to learn if they are recommended for you. Some people should not take large doses of antioxidants or zinc for medical reasons. Also, beta carotene has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in people who currently smoke or recently quit smoking.
People who smoke should ask their physician before taking the AREDS supplement, because one of the ingredients has been associated with a higher risk of lung cancer in smokers. An alternate version of the supplement formulated to be safe for smokers is available. Your Eye M.D. can give you more information on this option.
Another AREDS project to evaluate the benefits of high-supplemental doses of lutein, zeaxanthin and fish oil (omega-3) is ongoing. And a large study in women showed a potential benefit from taking supplements of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.
As you think about ways to improve your eye health, remember: vitamins and nutritional supplements are not a cure for eye disease, nor will they give you back vision that you may have already lost. But good nutrition at all ages is vital for your entire body, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy eyes. Talk with your Eye M.D. about any concerns you have about your eye health.