The good news is that some of these recommendations do double-duty.
Besides helping your eyes, they are beneficial for the rest of you, too.
In fact, you might have #1 and #2 on your list of New Year’s resolutions for entirely different reasons.
But they will also help you maintain your precious eyesight!
1. Quit Smoking
When we think of smoking’s impacts on health, the first thing that comes to mind is lung disease.
But smoking has effects all over the body, including the eyes.
One big way to keep your eyes healthy throughout your life is to avoid smoking and tobacco products.
Of the leading causes of blindness, smoking raises the risk of at least four of the major ones.
In fact, according to the New York Department of Health:
- Smoking raises blood pressure, which ultimately can lead to glaucoma and permanent vision loss.
- Smoking raises the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by three to four times. Even exposure to secondhand smoke through living with a smoker doubles risk.
- Smoking 15-plus cigarettes a day is estimated to raise the risk of developing cataracts by perhaps 3 times.
- Diabetes is much more common among smokers, and so are the health side effects that go with it, such as diabetic retinopathy, a complication that can lead to blindness.
Smoking is also associated with less drastic, but chronic eye conditions, such as persistent severe dry eye.
Quitting smoking in the new year will put your vision less at risk in the future.
2. Cut Down On Bad Screen Habits
Digital eye fatigue is a growing problem in the age of electronic devices.
Smartphones, tablets, computer monitors, and TV screens harm our eyes in two ways.
First, staring at screens for long periods tires our eye muscles and can lead to headaches, soreness, and dry or red eyes.
We blink less frequently when we’re glued to a screen, and we hunch over and sit too close to the monitor at a computer.
Secondly, too much blue light exposure from electronic devices in the evening hours can interrupt healthy sleep patterns because our body sets its daily rhythms by the amount and types of light being received through the eyes.
To correct these bad screen habits, try these adjustments to your routine.
To avoid digital eye fatigue, follow the 20-20-20-20 rule.
Sit at least 20 inches from the screen, and every 20 minutes, look up from the screen and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds or longer.
To reduce sleep disruptions from blue light, minimize your use of electronic devices for the hours right before bedtime.
Or, if you can’t put the screens down, try a pair of amber-tinted glasses that block blue light.
3. Eliminate Bad Eye Care Hygiene
If you are a contact wearer, you’ve probably heard before that you’re supposed to keep your contact solution fresh.
Not only does this mean ensuring that the bottle of storage solution is not out of date, but it’s also crucial to rinse out contact cases of last night’s solution before refilling and storing your contacts again.
Using old solution or topping of what’s left from the previous day can introduce germs to your lenses that then transfer to your eye.
Additionally, remember to throw out disposable contacts when it’s time, based on manufacturer’s guidelines and your doctor’s recommendations.
This is an important step that many people fudge on, but the contacts are made to be worn only so long.
If you’re concerned about cost of your disposables, talk to your eye doctor about options.
Hand washing is another hygiene step that is easy to skip when you’re rushed, but it’s the easiest way to cut down on the germs that your delicate eyes are exposed to.
Unlike the rest of your body that uses skin as a physical barrier against germs, eyes are a much more vulnerable access point for germs, as well as small particles of dust and debris.