Prevent Vision Problems

Your eyes are for life. You should take good care of them. A little daily attention toward your eye health can potentially help ward off vision problems—some more surprising than others. As always, common sense and a daily commitment to taking care of yourself in general are your best defenses.

Here are some tips to get you on the right track.

Stay Fit—to Avoid Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy

All of the lifestyle habits that our doctors promote to us for multiple reasons, from weight control to disease prevention, also relate to the eyes. You can protect your vision by helping to ward off diabetes, a condition that develops from having too much glucose (sugar) in your blood stream for too long. This can damage the tiny blood vessels in your retina, called diabetic retinopathy,   Diabetic retinopathy (DR): A complication of diabetes, DR compromises vision and can lead to blindness. Tiny blood vessels in the retina are weakened and leak blood and fluid into the eye, which can progress to new, abnormal blood vessel growth on the retinal surface, further affecting vision. Between 40 and 45 percent of American adults with diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy.   and is the most common of diabetes-related eye problems. Follow a healthy eating plan, being sure to get enough Vitamins A and C in particular. Drink lots of water, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, and watch your blood pressure. And, of course, don’t smoke.1

Exercise Your Eyes

Practiced faithfully, eye exercises may actually help delay the need for glasses or contacts in some people, particularly those who suffer eye strain from staring at a computer or other close-up work for long periods. Take a break to focus on objects that are farther off in the distance. But keep your expectations in check. There is not yet solid evidence to back claims that eye exercises can eliminate the need for corrective lenses.1 That said, it can’t hurt to mix things up regularly.

Alternate Glasses With Contact Lenses

More than 30 million Americans wear contact lenses because of their flexibility, convenience, and glasses-free look. And, overall, contact lenses are a safe, smart option for many people. But realize that they also present potential risks. Because they are placed directly on the eye, contact lenses can lead to conditions such as eye infections and corneal ulcers.3 Many people these days can afford to keep both glasses and contact lenses on-hand and alternate between lenses for convenience and glasses for when their eyes feel dry, tired, or need a breather—or just to update their look.

If you do prefer contact lenses—because of an active lifestyle, for example—be sure to do the required regular cleaning and upkeep, following directions, to prolong not only the life of your lenses, but also your eye health.4

Your eyes are unique, with traits that make them yours alone. Maybe they are iridescent blue or help you see furniture in the dark. Sometimes, though, these unique quirks become abnormalities that cause vision problems. Talk to your doctor to find out if your eyesight could benefit from LASIK,   LASIK: An acronym for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. LASIK is a type of laser surgery in which the cornea is reshaped to improve vision. A device called a microkeratome is used to surgically create a thin, hinged flap of corneal tissue. The flap is folded back, the laser is directed to the corneal surface exposed beneath the flap, and the flap is brought back into place.   .

Next: Why Eye Problems Begin



  1. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your eyes healthy. Accessed October 16, 2010.
  2. Laukkanen H, O.D., Rabin J. A prospective Study of the EYEPORT Vision Training System. Optometry. 2006: 77;508-514. Accessed October 16, 2010.
  3. US Food and Drug Administration. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) Web site. Accessed October 16, 2010.
  4. American Optometric Association. Comprehensive eye and vision examination. ACA Web site. Accessed October 16, 2010.