5 healthy habits that help prevent vision loss

October 2, 2015

The research speaks for itself.

All 5 of the habits below lead to healthier lifestyles, so why not consider this a win, win?

5 healthy habits that help prevent vision loss

1. Get physical.

Turns out a sedentary lifestyle — aptly called sitting disease — can even harm your eyes!

When researchers tracked nearly 4,000 residents of a town in Wisconsin for 15 years, they found that those who climbed more than six flights of steps a day or walked more than 12 blocks were 70 percent less likely to develop advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than their more sedentary neighbors.

2. Wear sunglasses all year round.

Spring, summer, fall and winter protection from the sun's damaging UV rays can help lower your odds for major vision-robbing problems, as well as eye cancer, nerve damage, and even burns on your cornea.

  • Look for close-fitting shades (wraparound styles are best) that entirely block UVA and UVB rays.
  • If you already have sunglasses you like, get the UV protection level checked at an optical shop — most are equipped with a machine called a photometer that can gauge UV-blocking levels.
  •  Good news: The price and the colour of the lenses won't affect how well they deflect the sun's damage.

"Think of sunglasses as sunblock for your eyes." says Paul T. Finger, MD, director of Ocular Tumor Services at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

3. Add a broad-brimmed hat.

You may be especially vulnerable to sun damage if

  • your eyes are blue,
  • you spend lots of time outdoors — especially at the beach, on the water, or on snow, which all reflect and magnify sun exposure
  •  you take sun-sensitizing drugs (ask your doctor about your prescriptions; many classes of drugs have this effect).

If any of these apply to you, wear a broad-brimmed hat plus sunglasses for double protection.

4. Quit smoking.

Cigarette-smokers are up to four times more likely than nonsmokers to be blinded by AMD later in life.

5. Loosen that necktie.

Seriously. Tight neckties raised the pressure of fluid within the eye — a risk factor for glaucoma — significantly in a study of 40 men conducted at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

And if you do have glaucoma, a snugly cinched tie could make it worse. If you wear neckties, you should be able to easily slip two fingers inside your collar. If you can't, loosen up.

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