Health & Fitness

Into Focus

McHenry County Magazine

March is time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, take that Spring Break trip and ... focus on the health of your eyes? It’s true! March is “Save Your Vision” month and aims to increase awareness regarding good eye care. Organized by the American Optometric Association (AOA), the main focus of this campaign is to encourage more people to go for regular eye exams. With computers becoming an everyday part of people’s lives, the risk of eye strain and damage is higher than before.

Make Time for an Eye Exam
According to David Rocks, O.D, optometrist at Advanced Eye Care Clinic in Lake in the Hills, it’s important to have eye exams throughout your life.

“Getting your eyes examined every one to two years is your best defense against preserving your vision long term,” he says. Exams should be conducted in the first year of life, around age 3, and every year while in school. “The adage that the eyes are the window to your soul is a good one,” says Rocks. “Very few diseases do not affect the eyes in some way.” According to him, an eye exam can reveal high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, lupus and more.

Take a Break from Computers
Today, computers are everywhere — at work, at home and even on the train or bus on your commute. Looking at computer monitors can cause eye dryness and eyestrain. Rocks suggests following the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for at least 20 seconds. According to him, there also are computer-specific lenses that decrease the blue light emitted from monitors and tablets, which can be helpful to some people.

Focus on Your Diet
Eating healthy foods is good for your whole body, including your eyes. Rocks recommends eating fish, especially fish rich in omega 3s, such as salmon; vegetables that have dark colors, such as spinach, kale, red and yellow peppers; fruits; and whole grains to keep blood glucose levels even. “Good nutrition keeps your body full of antioxidants to help slow the aging process,” says Rocks.

Prevent injuries
• At home — Rocks advises people wear protective eyewear when operating power tools, string trimmers, saws or anything that may potentially cause debris to fly.

• At work — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment each day. Safety experts, however, believe the proper eye protection could lessen the severity or even prevent 90 percent of these injuries. Potential eye hazards in the workplace include projectiles, such as dust, concrete and wood; chemicals, such as splashes and fumes; radiation, such as ultraviolet light, lasers or infrared radiation; and blood borne pathogens, such as blood and body fluids. OSHA requires the use of eye and face protection whenever there is reasonable probability of injury.

• During sports — Rocks says people who play ball sports, such as baseball, basketball, football, racquet sports, or soccer should wear protective eyewear.
Shield your eyes from the sun

According to Rocks, wearing sunglasses that block 100 percent of the UVA and UVB rays can help slow the aging of the eyes. He said that these rays are thought to play a role in macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts and sunspots on the white of the eye, as well as increase the risk of skin cancers along the eye lids.

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