Protect Those Pretty Peepers

Protect Those Pretty Peepers

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Our eyes are a vital part of our health, but it’s easy to take them for granted. It’s important to make sure you keep them healthy. Here’s how you can keep your eyes healthy and injury-free.

Have a yearly comprehensive dilated eye exam: If your vision seems fine, why should you go get an exam? Regularly getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses.

And many common eye diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration, often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases and others in their early stages.

Sunglasses: One of the most important thing you can do for your eyes is to keep them protected from the sun. Whether it’s a bright summer day or a snowy slope, your eyes can be damaged from the sun’s UV rays. That’s why sunglasses are needed year-round. Be sure to look for sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

And keep in mind that artificial UV rays like those found in tanning beds, a welder’s flash, flood lamps or electric sparks can also damage your eyes.

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other conditions that can lead to vision loss, like diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.

Maintain your blood sugar levels: Most blindness caused by diabetes is preventable. If you have diabetes, ask your health care team to help you set and reach goals to manage your blood sugar.

Diet: What you eat affects more than just your heart, brain and BMI. A diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin (found in broccoli, collard greens and spinach) has been associated with decreased risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.

Antioxidants in berries can reduce damage to your eyes from free radicals. And Omega 3s have been shown to improve eye health. Get these helpful fatty acids from foods like halibut, salmon and tuna.

Protective sports gear: You might not think about wearing sport glasses when going for a jog or riding your bike through the park. But even though there isn’t a ball, bat or racquet involved, other objects may fly around and land in your eyes, damaging your vision. Dirt, gravel and even insects can get blown into your eyes, causing injury. Wear sunglasses or goggles. Make sure they fit properly and contain 99 to 100 percent UV protection.

Safety gear at work: If your employer provides you with protective eye gear, it’s vital that you use it. Make sure it fits properly and is the correct kind. For example, safety glasses with side shields are important if there may be flying objects in your work environment.

Face shields and welding helmets can protect from flying objects and heat. But they should be worn over safety goggles. The shields are too far away from your eyes to provide enough protection alone.

And there are different types of goggles for different environments. Some goggles fit tightly around eyes and should be worn in dusty environments. Others block dust and chemical splashes. They may be used in lab work or work with molten materials.

When in doubt about safety gear, always ask your employer which type is right for you.

Know your family’s eye health history: Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since many are hereditary. This information will help determine if you’re at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

Find an Eye Care Provider

Our Provider Finder® tool is the quickest and easiest way to locate in-network eye care providers. To access Provider Finder, log in to your Blue Access for MembersSM account and click on Find Care.

Sources: Keep Your Eyes Healthy, leaving site icon National Eye Institute, 2021; Tips to Prevent Vision Loss, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023

Originally published 5/25/2016; Revised 2020, 2022, 2023, 2024