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For Healthy Eyes, Take the Long View

Keeping your eyes healthy is important, and if you follow basic rules for your general health, it is possible to avoid long-term problems. Here are some tips:

  • Eat right, stay at a healthy weight and exercise. Eye doctors back a diet that helps control blood pressure and blood sugars and helps maintain a healthy weight. Patients should stay fit and avoid the types of fast food that can fuel obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Any of these conditions can reduce blood flow to the macula (the center of the retina at the back of the eye). The health of the macula depends on a good supply of blood.

  • Don't smoke. Most eye doctors agree smoking is bad for your eyes. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop cataracts (a clouding of the lens) and macular degeneration.

  • Get an annual diabetes checkup. Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness, according to the American Diabetes Association.

  • Add kale, spinach and broccoli to your diet. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in these and other leafy vegetables may help head off macular degeneration.

  • Eat more fish and nuts. They may help lower your risk for advanced macular degeneration.

  • Wear sunglasses. Look for a pair that blocks ultraviolet A, ultraviolet B, and blue rays.

  • Get eye exams as recommended by your eye care provider to detect conditions early.

See the eye doctor if you have:

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Pain in your eyes or pressure behind your eyeballs

  • Difficulty reading signs and books or the loss of peripheral (side) vision

  • Flashes of light or floating debris that blocks your vision

  • Wavy lines when you should be seeing straight lines

  • Any sudden change in your vision