There are plenty of cliches and puns about vision, including “the eyes are the window to the soul,” “a sight for sore eyes” and even “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But eyesight is certainly no laughing matter.
As one of the core five senses of the body, vision seems to be the most important, as some evidence has shown that people perceive approximately 80 percent of all impressions by means of their sight.
Whether you wear glasses, contact lenses or neither, learn about taking care of your vision and some consequences of not properly managing your sight.
According to Dr. Mark Ruchman, chief medical officer at Versant Health, a vision care company headquartered in Linthicum, Maryland, the No. 1 best practice for people looking to take better care of their vision is getting regular eye exams.
“Having consistent checkpoints with eye care professionals ensures that people are up to date not only on their vision health but their overall health, as well,” he says. “Eye exams can be a form of early detection for chronic health issues, such as hypertension and diabetes. In addition to regular eye exams, people can naturally support healthy vision with good hygiene and a diet rich in leafy green vegetables.”
Additional best practices people can take to support their vision include keeping a healthy diet; ensuring your work environment includes adequate lighting; and investing in eye protection for work-related or recreational activities, such as polycarbonate lenses, Ruchman says.
Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, an ophthalmologist at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York City, says the main focus that people should have is to maintain healthy lifestyles.
“Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and activities such as smoking can all cause problems with vision,” he says. “Eating foods like green leafy vegetables and healthy unprocessed oils, limiting the intake of processed fats and sugary items, and exercising routinely are key to having good vision throughout life. People can also do everyday things like reducing screen time, particularly at night, to avoid bothersome symptoms of eyestrain.”
People should visit their eye doctor at least once per year if they are currently wearing glasses or using contact lenses. One big issue with prolonged contact lens use beyond what’s recommended is the development of dysfunction and even infections within the cornea that can cause permanent scarring and the need for future surgery, Deobhakta says.
“Generally speaking, it is incredibly important to remove contact lenses every night to avoid these problems and consider lubricating the surface of the cornea with preservative-free artificial tears,” he says.
When it comes to glasses, people using an outdated lens prescription could be risking blurry vision and consistent eyestrain, Ruchman says.
“The immediate impacts of people not taking care of their eyes include blurred vision and the loss of the ability to perform routine, day-to-day tasks,” Ruchman says. “Over the long term, deteriorating eye health could result in the loss of the richness of life that comes with clear, healthy vision.”
Deobhakta stresses that eyesight is perhaps the most important sense for people.
“If it is not working as well as it should, you will have difficulties performing basic daily tasks, and your ability to function will be vastly reduced,” he says. “Thus, engaging in healthy activities, which have the added bonus of contributing to the health of not just your eyes but your entire body, is something everyone should take seriously.”