Tips for Healthy Vision

May is Healthy Vision Month. Taking steps to care for your eyes can help prevent vision loss from glaucoma and other eye diseases.

Get a dilated eye exam. A dilated eye exam can detect eye diseases at an early stage when there are no symptoms. To perform a dilated eye exam, your eye care professional puts drops in the eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil so he or she can get a good look at the back of the eye. Early detection and treatment of eye diseases such as glaucoma can slow or stop vision loss and reduce the risk of blindness. Talk to your eye doctor about how often you should have a dilated eye exam.

Be aware of risk factors. The risk of vision loss and blindness is higher for some people based on race, ethnicity, and other demographic factors. For example, you might be at higher risk for glaucoma if you have a family history of glaucoma; have diabetes; are African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native; or are older than 50. Knowing about your family’s health is helpful to maintain your own eye health. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It is important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease, since some (like glaucoma) have a hereditary component.

Use protective eyewear. Protect your eyes when doing chores around the house, playing sports, or on the job, to prevent eye injuries from happening. This includes wearing safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate.

Wear sunglasses. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation, so you can keep your vision sharp and eyes healthy. A hat offers great sun protection, too!

Live a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, managing chronic conditions, and not smoking, can significantly lower your risk of eye disease.

What to Eat and What to Avoid

A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, can support overall eye health. Foods high in antioxidants, like leafy greens and colorful fruits, are particularly beneficial.

Foods to Include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Berries
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish)

Foods to Limit:

  • High caffeine beverages
  • High-sodium foods
  • Excessive alcohol

Regular Exercise

In addition to positively affecting overall health, moderate exercise like walking or swimming can help reduce intraocular pressure, which is an important factor in glaucoma.

Stress Management

Stress is known to have a significant impact on various health conditions, and stress management techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises can be beneficial. The exact relationship between stress and glaucoma is complex and not fully understood. A recent study suggests that in patients with glaucoma, there may be benefits to eye pressure and optic nerve health by doing mindfulness meditation on a regular basis.

Diet, exercise, and stress management techniques should complement, not replace, the traditional treatments for glaucoma.

Additional Resources

If you are experiencing vision loss, it can have a major impact on every part of life. The National Eye Institute’s Healthy Vision Month website features a wide array of resources for people with a visual impairment — like information about vision rehabilitation services and tools to help make meaningful connections with others.

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Reviewed and updated May 2, 2024.