Who doesn’t love a good New Year’s resolution? Many people begin the New Year with a strategy of being more aware of their health and well-being. Some plan to eat healthier, exercise regularly or quit smoking – which are a great start. But there are other simple habits that can enhance the well-being of your eyes.

Following are seven eye-healthy resolutions to consider implementing in 2024. These best practices will protect your “windows on the world” – those amazing eyes that enable you to enjoy the world around you.

  1. Wear UV Protective Sunglasses Year-Round

The result of cumulative UV-A and UV-B rays over the years can contribute to developing cataracts. Serious eye conditions including macular degeneration and rare eye cancers are also linked to prolonged exposure to the sun’s damaging rays. Wear a high-quality pair of sunglasses to reduce these risks and protect your eyes from dryness and irritation caused by blowing debris, dust, sand, snow and wind. Get a good pair of UV-protective sunglasses or treat yourself to a new pair of prescription sunglasses to protect your eyes!

  1. Practice Good Contact Lens Hygiene

We all get lazy sometimes, but when it comes to contact lens hygiene, carelessness has some serious consequences. Follow your optometrist’s instructions for the care and use of your contacts to reduce your chances of an unwanted eye infection. Also, keep track of the amount of time that you wear your contacts. In recent years, lens technology has improved, making contacts thinner, microbe-resistant and more comfortable to wear — which can tempt you to wear them longer than is healthy. Follow your optometrist’s guidance on how many hours per day to wear them.

  1. Remove Eye Makeup Before Going to Bed

Blepharitis – the term for clogged oil glands at the base of your eyelashes — is a common condition that affects everyone whether or not you wear makeup. However, when you don’t wash your makeup off at night, it contributes to a crusty buildup at the base of the lashes that can block glands and cause a painful stye. Removing eye makeup each night can help loosen oil that may cause a stye to develop.

  1. Reduce Screen Time

When you’re working at a computer or looking at a phone screen for hours and hours, your eyes are focusing intently. The muscles in your eyes get exhausted from focusing! Plus, when you stare at screens, you don’t blink as frequently as you would normally. This can cause eye strain and dry eyes. To help reduce eye strain, adopt the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to stare at something 20 feet away. At night, do your eyes a favor and decrease the device’s brightness by using “dark mode” to help reduce eye strain. Minimizing screen time helps prevent eye strain, but stepping away from the screen altogether is a much better option for your eye health.

  1. Eat More Eye-Healthy Leafy Green Vegetables and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eat your veggies! Your mother was right! Beta carotene and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin found in carrots and dark green leafy vegetables are good for the health of your retinas. A National Eye Institute study showed that a specific mix of antioxidant vitamins and minerals improved long-term outcomes of macular degeneration. Take a plant-based multivitamin and eat more brightly colored vegetables and leafy greens to keep your eyes healthy. To gain the dietary advantage of Omega-3 fatty acids, include cold-water fish (like salmon and tuna) on your plate, and balance your diet with fresh fruits. What you eat directly affects your vision.

  1. Wear Protective Eyewear

Only about 3 out of 10 people wear protective eyewear, which is shocking when you realize that a pair of goggles can literally reduce your risk of eye injury by 90%!

  • Do you use power tools or mechanical devices? Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Screws, nails and hand tools can fly through the air and cause catastrophic injury to the eye.
  • Do you love to landscape? Trimmers, wood chippers, lawnmowers and even shovels can throw thorns, twigs, dirt and debris into the air and potentially damage your eyes.
  • Spring cleaning your home or just doing a weekly cleaning? Put on those goggles! Every year there are 125,000+ reported eye injuries from cleaning. Strong household chemicals (like oven cleaner and bleach) can damage the sensitive tissue of the eyes. Never mix chemicals and always wear protective eyewear — it can save your sight!
  1. Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Yearly eye exams are essential to your eye health — and the older you are the more critical eye exams can be in monitoring your eyes and catching issues early when they’re more easily treated. If you have diabetes or other medical conditions that affect your eyesight, it is even more important to see your optometrist on an annual basis. Diagnosing “silent” conditions like glaucoma that can steal your sight before you notice it is just one good reason to schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam as one of your new healthy habits.

Call us today to make an appointment with your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. It’s a great start to stepping into 2024 with healthy eyes!