May is a beautiful time of year! After living through a long Chicago winter, we’re all glad to see the longer days and better weather May has to offer. May is special for another reason, too, because the National Eye Institute had designated this month to be Healthy Vision month to stress the importance of the health of our eyes.

If you feel like your vision is fine, it’s easy to take your eyesight for granted, but your eyesight is precious, and needs to be protected. As we age, our risk for cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration increases, but even young people can face sight-threatening scenarios or even sight loss from eye disease because of uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension. Dr. Ansel Johnson at Vision Salon Eye Care Associates is passionate about helping people in our community who have diabetes take proper care of themselves, so they feel good and aren’t faced with sight loss from diabetic eye disease.

In honor of Healthy Vision month, we’ll share some simple tips on how you can make some lifestyle changes to maintain your healthy eyes and vision.

Eat eye-healthy foods.

The American Optometric Association shares that researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain serious eye diseases like age-related macular degenerationand cataracts. Get more fruits and colorful vegetables, like squash and red bell peppers, and dark green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, into your diet.

Get regular exercise.

Moving your body at least three to four times each week on a consistent basis has fantastic benefits for your physical and mental health. You’ll reduce your stress, strengthen your heart, reduce your blood pressure, and if you have diabetes, regular exercise is a key component of managing your disease to keep it under control. Some eye diseases are related to having high blood pressure and diabetes, so regular exercise helps you maintain your healthy eyes and vision.

Don’t smoke.

We know smoking can be a difficult habit to break, but it is terrible for your health, and that includes your eye health. Smokers have an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, which causes a blind spot in the front part of your vision, making you unable to drive, read, or see people’s faces. Smoking can also lead to an increased risk of glaucoma and cataracts, and if you have dry eye, it will worsen your symptoms.

If you smoke, work on a plan to ditch the habit for good.

Protect your eyes from the sun.

We all enjoy spending time outside, especially when the weather is nice, but the sun can be harmful to your eyes. It’s important to protect your eyes from the UV rays of the sun. Wear quality sunglasses that block 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays and ask us about our options for the right pair of sunglasses based on your outdoor activities. If you’re on the water, for instance, polarized lenses reduce glare.

Ask us about our options! Everyone should wear quality sunglasses, including babies, children, and adults.

Pay attention to changes in your vision.

If you notice you aren’t seeing as well as you used to, give us a call to schedule an eye exam. It may simply be that you need a new prescription for your eyeglasses or contact lenses, but there may be other issues going on which can only be diagnosed through an eye exam. If you experience eye pain, see flashes of light, or a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters, call us right away because these may be signs of a more serious problem which requires immediate attention.

Get regular comprehensive eye exams.

One of the simplest things you can do to protect your eye health and vision is to get regular eye exams. Even if you feel your vision is fine, some eye diseases have little to no symptoms in the early stages, so the only way to catch them early is through an eye exam.

Dr. Ansel Johnson at Vision Salon Eye Care Associates helps people in Chicago with their eye health and vision. If it’s been a while since your last comprehensive eye exam, please schedule an appointment with us.