7 Tips to Improve your Eye Heath: August is National Eye Exam Month Published Aug. 3, 2018 By Maj Kyle Hiatt 97th Medical Group ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Since August is Eye Health Month, here are a few tips to help you stay healthy: 1. Wear UV Protectant Sunglasses—damage from UV light can cause cataracts (the leading cause of blindness in the world) to form more quickly. It can also put you at higher risk for macular degeneration and other eye disorders. 2. Don’t “get the red out”—redness relief eye drops sound like a great idea, but in practice they tend to make things worse. When you treat the “redness” you are only treating a symptom, not the cause of the problem. In general, you will do better with a good quality artificial tear instead of a redness relief drop. 3. Monitor your overall health—systemic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can have a profound effect on your vision. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Taking care of yourself will help you preserve vision. 4. A good diet is key—a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables will help you get the antioxidants you need to minimize your risk of macular degeneration. 5. Avoid excessive eye strain—if you spend a lot of time on a computer or other up-close work, try to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your up-close task to a distance of 20 ft or more for at least 20 seconds. 6. Follow your doctor’s instruction for contact lenses—most contact lens wearers put themselves at risk by not using them or cleaning them properly. Most contact lenses are NOT approved for overnight wear. Usually contact lenses are designed to be thrown away after 2 weeks or 1 month, depending on the brand. When people don’t follow the schedule for discarding their lenses and/or wear them too long they are at risk of developing corneal ulcers (extremely painful) and new blood vessel growth into the cornea (will cause swelling and decreased vision). Also, clean the lenses well every night with new solution, don’t “top off” your lens case. 7. Have regular eye exams—most eye problems can be detected early by your eye doctor before you would have any symptoms. Routine exams are critical to keeping your vision clear and your eyes healthy.