best practices for long-term eye health?
January 4, 2015 3:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm a new to eyeglasses as an adult (got my first pair two years ago at age 35). Aside from mild nearsightedness I have healthy eyes so far, but I have a family history of bad eye issues such as retinal detachments. What should I be doing now to maximize my eye health going forward?

I'm mildly nearsighted and this probably started by my late 20s, but because I was never driving, I didn't have an eye exam until I was 35. Now I'm 37 and my rx is "-225-050x110 / -225-075x50." (Those two lines of text -- somewhat different than the examples in "how to read your rx" explanations on the web.)

My parents have both had very poor eyesight since childhood, and my mom's had eye issues in her 50s and 60s including multiple retinal detachments and inoperable cataracts.

I feel behind the curve / somewhat confused about eye health. I probably average 30 hours a week working in front of a screen, but I don't have issues with eyestrain (I do face a window with a long-distance view and make sure to look out the window regularly). I'm also good about sun protection for my eyes. I'm more sensitive to bright light than most people (but I have light blue eyes, which I read affects this).

I'd love to hear advice either re. specific practices or re. where to get a good primer on eye health and slowing eyesight decline.
posted by kalapierson to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Just make sure you get to your Optometrist and/or Ophthalmologist annually. Get all the tests! Pay extra for the fancy ones. I was tooting along all happy and shit and then I got diagnosed with narrow angle glaucoma. You can't feel it, it doesn't affect your vision, but if that angle closes, you can go blind. The average angle should be 45 degrees, mine were 4 degrees. I had laser surgery on both eyes over a period of three weeks and I'm cured forever. It was absolutely no big deal, a few blasts to open the angle, taking about 2 minutes tops. I was sitting in a chair and the assistant held my head. It didn't hurt. I was in the doctor's office at 9 and back at my desk working at 10:30.

Annual visits catch diseases, vision changes and all sorts of things. So make sure you get it all scheduled.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:30 PM on January 4, 2015 [8 favorites]

After treatment for a retinal detachment I asked my opthalmologist what I could do to improve my eye health. He said do the same things as for the rest of your body - good nutrition, plenty of exercise and good sleep. Also, in case a retinal detachment does occur the success of treatment can be affected by overall health. In his practice healthier people had fewer complications.
posted by goodsearch at 3:41 PM on January 4, 2015

Sunglasses. Since you've gone the eyeglass route, either prescription sunglasses (which are a PITA, in my experience) or find a style of clip-ons that match your frames. Yeah, it's kind of a dorky look, but my optometrist (who I have been seeing for decades now) is pretty adamant about wearing sunglasses when outside.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:13 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am of roughly similar age, nearsightedness and family eye issues and the advice in the thread fits how I go about eye care. I go see an ophthalmologist every 2-3 years, which is what he suggested, increasing to yearly if any signs of trouble occur or my prescription needs changing and it has barely moved in years.

My trick for sunglasses is Zenni optical. You can get Rx sunglasses for ~$20 a pair (give or take) and the ability to have multiple pair of cheap sunglasses has been an amazing change compared to when I once spent hundreds of dollars on glasses.
posted by ndfine at 5:15 PM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

Just make sure you get to your Optometrist and/or Ophthalmologist annually.

I really, seriously would only see an Ophthalmologist if I had your concerns. Neither an optomertrist or an optician are MDs. Ophthalmologists have a lot of training and can diagnose and treat a wider range of conditions.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:34 PM on January 4, 2015 [6 favorites]

Actually, you might not need sunglasses. My regular glasses do all the screening of bad stuff that sunglasses do, just because of my bad eyesight / strong prescription / darn good luck. So that's something to check with your optician, and maybe even relax about.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:35 PM on January 4, 2015

My ophthalmologist recommended fish oil can be good for eye health. This appears to have real science behind it. (for example here)
posted by metahawk at 6:39 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can get Transitions lens coating for your regular glasses so that they change color in uv light (unfortunately not when driving, but there may be newer technology that does). I always pay the extra $100 or so for mine, because I'm too lazy to carry sunglasses around and my very high prescription requires extra-high-index lenses that are correspondingly priced.
posted by serelliya at 6:45 PM on January 4, 2015

Macular degeneration runs in my family but can be slowed/ avoided by eating lots of orange and leafy green vegetables.
posted by yarntheory at 7:46 PM on January 4, 2015

I've heard of taking lutein for your eyes but I haven't tried it.

I just got diagnosed with a retinal tear (as in torn), I noticed my vision is worse if I stare at screens too long each day.
posted by taciturnpachyderm at 7:48 PM on January 4, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all! So if I was examined by a "Dr. __" is that an indication she was an ophthalmologist, or should I call the eye place to confirm? She took a basic medical history and did several tests including examining all quadrants of my eyes' veins with magnifying lenses and testing for glaucoma.
posted by kalapierson at 8:08 PM on January 4, 2015

Make sure you remove all your makeup before bed and be careful not to get any in your eyes when putting it on.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:41 PM on January 4, 2015

Spend time outdoors. Spend time away from computer/ tv/ phone screens. It's good for your eyes and the rest of you.
posted by theora55 at 2:09 AM on January 5, 2015

Eyes are sensitive to high blood pressure and a fatty diet because of their fine blood vessels. Move more and eat less:
1) With that in mind, consider swapping out a few helpings of animal/animal-based foods (meat/dairy) each week for vegetables and fruits.
2) +1 for theora55's suggestion. With respect to blood pressure, get more exercise. You've added three times weekly workouts to your new year resolutions, haven't you?

Take steps to reduce eye strain. Eye strain won't make you go blind but increases twitchy eyelid or headaches or light sensitivity or wearing shades on cloudy days.
1) +1 for others' suggestion about wearing shades outside.
2) +1 for others' suggestion about reducing your screen time, including smart phone time (unless it's for a call. Remember, your smart phone's primary intention is to be a telephone.). If you're going to watch a movie on iTunes/Google Play/Youtube, get a Chromecast and throw it to your TV. If you send a lot of texts, especially while you're sitting at the PC, get one of those apps that connects your PC and smart phone (similar to Motorola Connect) so that it rings your PC simultaneously and you can respond via your PC but it appears as if it's coming from your phone.
3) Increase the font size on your PC and cell phone. No one will judge you if the letters are grandma-sized.
4) Reduce the brightness of your PC and cell phone and concurrently increase its contrast.
5) Reduce your office overhead lights' brightness. Consider closing the window shade too: unless it's a curtain, blinds' opening is variable, from closed to a little open to 100% open to raised.
6) Don't use your phone in the dark if its the only light.
posted by dlwr300 at 7:37 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

So if I was examined by a "Dr. __" is that an indication she was an ophthalmologist

Not necessarily. An optometrist has an O.D. (Doctor of Optometry) whereas an ophthalmologist will have a full M.D. and would have additional training specializing in eyes. Kind of along the lines of psychologist(Ph.D.)/psychiatrist(M.D.) in mental health.
posted by ndfine at 9:12 AM on January 5, 2015

I would also go to an Ophthalmologist (MD). You can look the doctor up online to see if they're OD or MD. My eye doc's office has MD's and OD's - I see the MD for general eye stuff and glasses RX, and OD for contacts.
posted by radioamy at 11:20 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

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