Protect Those Pretty Peepers

Protect Those Pretty Peepers

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How do you keep your eyes healthy and injury-free? Here are some of the best tips for protecting those peepers.

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. In addition, 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. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if you’re seeing your best.

Sunglasses: The most important thing you can do for your eyes is to keep them protected from the sun. And not just the summer sun! Sunglasses are important year round because the UV rays from the sun can be harmful, even if it’s not hot and bright out. The UV rays in sunlight can cause cataracts to form, which makes your vision cloudy. Whether you prefer high fashion shades or the cheapest pair you can find, check the label to make sure they contain protection from UV rays.

Also, sunglasses can prevent eye sunburn. Did you know that was even possible? A condition known as photokeratitis can occur in places with snow and at high altitude. But it can also be caused from artificial UV rays too like those found in tanning beds, a welder’s flash, flood lamps, or electric sparks. No matter what your sport or hobby of choice, make sure you get the right gear!

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: Is there anything good nutrition can’t fix? Well, probably so, but it definitely is on just about every “how to prevent…” list. 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 yes, 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 even Omega 3s have been shown to improve your eye health. Get these helpful fatty acids from foods like halibut, salmon, and tuna.

protectrive eye gearProtective eye wear: Is important at work for many people, too. If your employer provides you with protective gear, it’s vital that you use it! But first, make sure it fits properly.

Protective sports gear: You might not think about wearing sport glasses when going for a jog or riding your bike through the park, but keep in mind that even though there is not a ball, bat or racquet involved, other objects may fly around and land in your eyes, damaging your vision. Dirt, gravel, even insects can get blown into your eyes causing injury. Make sure the glasses or goggles fit properly and contain 100% UV protection.

Safety gear at work:

  • 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 should be worn over safety goggles. The shields are too far away from your eyes to provide enough protection alone.
  • There are a couple different types of goggles that may be used, depending on need. Goggles with indirect ventilation have indirect openings to block dust and chemical splashes. They may be used in lab work, work with molten materials, or for other vision hazards. Goggles with regular ventilation fit tightly around eyes and should be worn in dusty environments.

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 to 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 the in-network eye care providers. To access provider Finder, log in to your Blue Access for MembersSM account and click on the Find a Doctor or Hospital tab. You can also call the customer service number on your member ID card for help.

Originally published May 25, 2016; Revised 2020

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