Many patients who experience common ocular symptoms such as eye strain or dry eyes have been dealing with discomfort for so long, they think it is normal! Identifying these signs and offering tips for improvement that don’t require a lot of effort can seem very simple to you as an eye-care provider, but can be a game-changer to patients.
A healthy diet has frequently been discussed as being critical for eye health and general health. Green, leafy vegetables, wild-caught fish, and carrots have been at the forefront of any “healthy eye” conversation. Though focusing on a healthy, balanced diet as well as using quality supplements is critical, here we will discuss some lifestyle tips you can recommend to your patients for good eye health and beyond.
These tips are so simple, they require minimal effort, meaning they can be followed by anybody!
Large Sunglasses: A good pair of sunglasses with UV protection are a must at all times. Most times, the bigger the better. Though it’s important to find a style that’s flattering and fits correctly, the sunglasses should also cover most of the upper and lower eyelids below the eyebrows and above the cheekbones. The skin around the eyes is very sensitive and delicate. Adequate coverage will not only protect the inner structures of the eye including the crystalline lens and retina, but also the outer structures of the eye!
Give your eyes a break: Screen time is inevitable nowadays. While some kids are using screens all day for distance learning, even the kids who are getting in-person schooling are now using laptops and tablets. Most companies have also adapted to working remotely thus leading to increased screen time. Whether it’s at work or at home, make sure you are taking frequent breaks while staring at the screen. A general rule of thumb to follow is for every 20 minutes of screen time, take a break for 20 seconds and look 20 feet away, also known as the 20-20-20 rule. Though this “rule” has been around for a while, it has never been as important as it is now!
Quit smoking: Though this piece of advice is applicable as a general health tip, smoking increases the risk of cataracts as well as macular degeneration and therefore has a direct correlation with vision loss! Also, smokers are more likely to experience dry eye symptoms compared to non-smokers. If there needed to be one more reason to quit, this is it!
Don’t rub your eyes: Eye rubbing can be triggered by allergies but can turn into a bad habit. Sure rubbing your eyes may feel good when your eyes are tired or itchy due to seasonal allergies, but it can cause more harm than good. Rubbing your eyes will temporarily relieve itch or discomfort, but it will also transfer germs and bacteria from your hands directly to your eyes. This can lead to eye infections and styes. Rubbing excessively can also cause increased symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis and corneal abrasions. When your eyes feel tired or itchy, instead of rubbing, reach for a vial of preservative-free artificial tears for relief and they will feel a lot better!
Sleep well: Your eyes are working non-stop from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to sleep. The eye muscles responsible for focusing and keeping your eyes in alignment rely on this resting period while you sleep in order to successfully do the same thing over again the next day. Inadequate sleep can lead to poor focusing and performance.
Though these tips seem very simple, it’s important to emphasize them to your patients for them to understand where their symptoms of eye strain, reduced vision, or dry eye are coming from. These simple tips seem very easy, but they are all an effective way to kick start a healthy eye regiment that requires almost zero additional effort!
~ Dr. Amadian