This article is not meant to diagnose or provide medical advice—that responsibility lies with physicians. The author is not a licensed medical professional.
When it comes to maintaining healthy eyes, seeing is believing. About 75 percent of American adults use some form of vision correction, whether glasses or contact lenses, according to the Vision Council of America. According to the New York State Department of Health, 4.6 million Americans over the age of 40 are visually impaired or blind.
But taking care of eyes is more than perfecting sight—it’s about maintaining and avoiding problems. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states about one million Americans require a trip to the doctor or hospital for treatment of eye infections alone!
We’re often told to eat carrots, avoid electronic screens and stay out of the sun to avoid eye issues. Instead of becoming a rabbit, living in the stone-age or sticking with a pale complexion, learn the facts about protecting your eyeballs.
All you need are those kind of corny but totally worth it Transitions lenses! “Given 90 percent of Americans use digital devices for two plus hours a day, we need to take steps to reduce the impact on your eyes,” says Jennifer Lyerly, O.D., a spokesperson for Transitions. “Auto adjusting lenses filter light for you.”
“If left untreated, Chronic Dry Eye disease may have potential health consequences for your eyes,” says Laura M. Periman, MD, ophthalmologist and dry eye specialist at Redmond Eye Clinic in Redmond, Washington. “Over time it can damage the front surface of your eyes, increase your risk of eye infection or even affect your vision.”
“Chronic Dry Eye disease tends to occur somewhat more frequently in women than in men,” says Dr. Periman. “Chronic Dry Eye disease can be associated with hormonal changes, common among women who are experiencing menopause or who are postmenopausal.” According to Eyepowerment.com, Chronic Dry Eye is not only more common in women, but also found more often in people over the age of 50.
According to the American Cancer Society, the eye is comprised of the eyeball (globe), the orbit and the adnexal structures. The eyeball itself has three main layers: the sclera, the uvea and the retina.
Primary intraocular cancers start inside the eyeball, and secondary intraocular cancers start elsewhere in the body before spreading to the eye. Secondary is more common than primary and most often originates from breast and lung cancers.
“Certain external conditions like pollen and allergies, dry air or wind, dust or smoke, wearing contact lenses, and yes—even sitting too long at the computer—can aggravate dry eye symptoms,” says Dr. Periman.
“Your average pair of glasses offers differing levels of protection from harmful light. Most lenses—whether clear or tinted—are certified to block some UVA/UVB rays,” says Dr. Lyerly. “Eyecare providers recommend preventative measures, including protective eyewear, to support and protect healthy sight.” It’s best to check how much coverage you are actually getting out of your lenses.
“Just like your skin, it is possible to get burned corneas. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses that protect against UVB and UVA rays,” says Dr. Periman. “Ideally, such protective sun wear also protects from wind.”
“The ingredients used in some waterproof mascara formulas as well as eye makeup removers are drying and can make lashes weaker and more susceptible to breakage. That’s why many people have turned to eyelash extensions as a fix, but this can also be problematic,” says Dr. Periman. “The adhesives are irritating to the eyes, the fibers often collect debris and bacteria, plus the unnatural length and stiffness of the eyelash extensions can divert air toward the eyes, worsening tear loss.”
“While nutrition needs differ from one patient to the next, diet can impact eye health,” says Dr. Periman. “Favor whole, unprocessed foods in their natural forms. Fresh, whole foods contain more nutrients that are good for your whole body. Limit intake of sugars and highly processed, fried and fatty foods, which can contribute to inflammation. Inflammation can affect the glands’ ability to create and maintain the lipid layer, or top layer, of the tear film. The lipid layer slows tear evaporation.”
Hilary Sheinbaum is a travel, health, food and lifestyle writer.