Published: June 29, 2008 parade.com
eyesight is crucial, but are you doing all you can to protect your
vision? Whether you’re mowing the lawn, playing racquetball,
or flying across the country, here’s how the experts say to
take care of your eyes.
STARING AT THE
All that time spent using computers and PDAs can lead to eyestrain, dry
eyes, and blurred vision. To combat these problems, check your work
station: Ideally, your monitor should be 5 to 9 inches below eye level.
This brings your lids downward, maintaining the healthiest blink rate,
says Susan Resnick, an optometrist in New York City. If you
can’t move the monitor, measure the distance between it and
your eyes, then consult your eye-care professional about the right pair
of glasses for that distance, says Dr. Gail Royal, an ophthalmologist
in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Also make sure there’s no glare on your
screen. And obey the 20/20/20 rule: For every 20 minutes of screen
time, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to maintain your
eyes’ focusing system.
Airplane cabin air is very dry, so keeping your eyes moist is
important. Direct air vents away from you, and use artificial tears
once every hour, suggests Dr. Royal. But avoid drops that reduce red
eye, because they constrict blood vessels. If possible, wear glasses
during the flight. If you choose to wear contacts, look for a new class
of lenses made with silicone hydrogel, a permeable plastic that allows
more oxygen to reach the eyes. Resnick often recommends Acuvue Oasys
because they have added wetting agents to help keep the eyes moist.
IN THE SUN
Did you know that UV rays can hurt your eyes as much as they hurt your
skin? Overexposure can increase your risk of cataracts, macular
degeneration, and pterygia, little bumps on the whites of the eyes.
“Every 15 minutes outdoors—even on cloudy
days—adds to the cumulative effect of radiation
damage,” says Resnick. Make sure both sunglasses and contact
lenses are UV-protective. (Even with contacts, though, you’ll
still need sunglasses to protect the whites of your eyes.) Lenses
should cover from the forehead down to the cheek and ideally wrap
around the temple region, says Dr. Robin Vann, chief of comprehensive
ophthalmology at Duke Eye Center in Durham, N.C.
IN THE DARK
Pupils enlarge at night, so any slight blur on the retina becomes
exaggerated. Get a thorough eye exam to make sure you’re
seeing clearly. When driving, minimize glare by looking to the bottom
right of the road, use the night setting on your rearview mirror, and
keep your car in tip-top nighttime shape (clean headlights, taillights,
signal lights, and windows—outside and in). Also, move your
eyes from the road to the dashboard and back again to avoid
“highway hypnosis” and maintain a keen sense of
depth perception. If you read in bed, make sure the light is bright
enough that you can see the words without straining, but not so bright
that you get a glare. A 60- or 75-watt bulb is best.
WORKING UP A SWEAT
Some 325,000 sports-related eye injuries occur every
year—many resulting in permanent vision loss. More than 90%
of those accidents could have been prevented with proper eyewear.
Choose protective lenses designed for your specific sport. Look for
polycarbonate lenses or a new material called Trivex—both are
thin and won’t shatter. Check the product’s
certification seal: It should meet the requirements of the American
Society for Testing Materials, which vary for each sport. For outdoor
sports, polarized lenses help you see more clearly.
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