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Get fit in a year: Protect your eyes

July 05, 2010|By DR. ERIK BERGMAN / Special to The Herald-Mail

Good eye care is crucial to protecting something that many of us take for granted: sight.

It's one of the five senses that we don't just use every day - we use it almost every waking second of every day. But many face issues with their eyes ranging from nearsightedness or farsightedness, to contagious conditions such as pink-eye, to more serious problems such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

So what can you do to make sure you don't have a common eye disorder or problem and keep your eyes healthy?

First and foremost, every individual, no matter if he or she has 20/20 vision and has never had an eye problem before, should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam once every two years, if not more often.

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The keyword is dilated. The pupil must be dilated for an eye-care professional to get a good view of the back of the eye. One of the top causes of vision loss is diabetic eye disease, and people often don't know they have it until the condition has already affected their sight. The easiest and best way to detect diabetic eye disease, and a range of other issues, is through a dilated exam.

If you're already regularly getting a dilated exam with your ophthalmologist, you've made a great start toward keeping your eyes healthy, but here are some other things you can be doing to protect your sight.

o Find out about your family's eye health history because some eye diseases are hereditary.

o Eat a diet rich in carrots, dark leafy greens, omega-3 fatty acids, fruits and other vegetables.

o Maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking can also help manage conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure that may affect sight.

o Wear protective eyewear, whether it be sunglasses to protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays, which can cause cataracts and macular problems in the retina, or safety glasses when working with tools or machinery.

o If you wear contacts, clean your hands and contacts properly before putting them in or removing them, to reduce your risk of infection. Give your eyes a rest. If you spend a long time reading or at the computer, follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes, take a break for 20 seconds to look at something at least 20 feet away.

Dr. Erik Bergman is the medical director of Bergman Eye Center and the chief of the Department of Ophthalmology at Washington County Hospital.

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