Eye Care Guide

by | Jan 23, 2018

Your physical body is amazingly engineered to do so much on its own. Sure, this entails matters like regulating your breathing and blood circulation—just two examples of autonomic functions (ones you don’t have to give any thought)—but it also includes cellular repair and regeneration. Autonomic functions are absolutely essential for health and injury repair.

Of course, there are actions you can, and should, take to assist in your own physical health.

Now, some parts of our health are more commonly focused upon than others. Many people, for example, are quick to think about their weight and/or muscle tone in conjunction with their health. An area you simply do not want to neglect, however, is the health of your eyes – especially if you like being able to see!

If you do value this particular ability, it is important to practice smart eye hygiene. There are various components to this, so let’s explore them and establish an eye care guide for you to follow.

Eye Strain and Screen Use

Some people worry that looking at a phone, tablet, or computer screen might damage their eyes. Well, there isn’t actually any solid evidence at this time that looking at screens will cause harm to your eyes. In fact, there are certain advantages as to looking at a screen versus something on paper – you can make the print bigger and the contrast between words and background is good (and can be altered to suit your particular needs).

That said, looking at a screen for an excessive amount of time can be tiring for your eyes. In order to give them a much-appreciated rest, here are some tips that can help:

  • If you need glasses to look at a screen, you wear them!
  • Make sure your workstation is set up comfortably.
  • Use a character size that is visible. The character size is an important factor since it determines the distance at which you prefer to view the monitor.
  • If your work involves prolonged data entry use document holders to secure any reading or reference material. Placing them close to the monitor and at the same distance from your eyes as your monitor, will enable your eyes to remain focused as they look from the monitor to the reading material.
  • Keep the distance of the monitor from your eyes between 16 to 30 inches. (Most people find a distance of 20 to 26 inches comfortable.)
  • Tilt the top of the monitor away from you at a 10- to 20-degree angle. This will enable you to create an optimum viewing angle.
  • Make sure that the top of the monitor is at a level at or slightly below your horizontal eye level.
  • Try and position your monitor so that you do not get distracting reflections (e.g. from a window). Also, make sure reflections on the screen do not interfere with what you are viewing (since this can cause your eyes to work harder and tire them more easily).
  • In the same spirit as our previous tip, keep your screen free of dust and fingerprints.
  • Use an adjustable chair that enables you to sit at a proper angle and distance from your computer monitor screen.
  • Blink regularly. When focusing on a screen your reflexes slow down, tear production reduces, and you blink less. This can lead to dry and uncomfortable eyes.
  • Remember the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eye muscles a break and help increase the rate of blinking.

Sunlight, Tanning Beds, and Protecting Your Eyes

Some eye problems are linked to unhealthy lifestyles, so it is important not to stop exercising outdoors or encouraging your children to go out and run around. The key is to make sure you and your loved ones are protected when doing so.

In our West Michigan summers, make sure you and your family wear quality sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection. You can bolster your eye protection by wearing a hat with a brim or a sun visor if you are out in bright sunlight.

With regards to tanning beds and booths, these kinds of equipment have been linked to skin cancer by published medical research. Accordingly, they are best avoided altogether. That said, we realize some people are going to tan and risk the consequences. If this is something you do, it is imperative you wear eye protection while you are tanning.

Your eyelids have skin that is very delicate and thin. As such, it is vital that you use special goggles when you are tanning (whether at a tanning salon or on the beach). Lack of eye protection could lead to skin cancer or a growth on the surface of your eye. This may occur in response to sunlight exposure or wind exposure. Further, repeated exposure to UV sources can result in long-term damage which affects your sight.

Eye Health and Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices

It’s probably easier to think of other reasons obesity is less-than-ideal, but you can add “diminished eye health” to the list.  A major contributing factor to this has to do with an increased risk of diabetes. As we’ve previously discussed, this particular disease can negatively and profoundly affect your eyes and ability to see.

In addition to the increased diabetes risk, high blood pressure effects eye health. Maintaining a healthy bodyweight is one way for you to keep your blood pressure under control.

Tying in with obesity and high blood pressure is high cholesterol. When your cholesterol levels are elevated, you face an increased risk of having a blood vessels become blocked. Given the importance of healthy blood flow for your eyes and ability to see, this can be a serious problem.

High cholesterol also comes with increased risk for stroke – which happens when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked or starts to bleed. This causes an array of medical issues, including potentially affecting your vision (if this happens in the region of your brain you use to see with). It can also cause blind spots which means you may have difficulty reading, be unable to drive, and start bumping into things.

Obesity and poor nutrition come with many health problems, and so too does smoking.

In this day and age, everyone knows smoking is bad news. There are so many reasons it is detrimental to your health, including negative effects on your eyes. In fact, most of the 4,000 active compounds in tobacco smoke—most of which are toxic—can potential damage the eyes.

Those who smoke are up to four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than nonsmokers. They also are more likely to develop cataracts. And smoking brings an increased risk for strokes (and we just discussed how devastating they can be for your ability to see!).

The West Michigan Leaders in Eye Care

For all of your eye care needs, come see our expert team here at Sight Eye Clinic in Zeeland. We are conveniently located just off of Chicago Drive (on Van Hill Drive) and provide comprehensive optometry services, so contact us today to request your appointment. Call us at (616) 772-2020 for more information or to schedule your visit!