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Family Eye Care | 5 Ways for Parents to Protect Their Vision

My family and I were preparing for our first trip to Hawaii a few years ago. All the arrangements had been made. I outlined a thorough list of activities to try and places to go. I packed our bags, marking every item off my check list. Mainly toys, books, snacks and more snacks, of course. We were thrilled to make the trip, and I was overjoyed with the possibility of a much-needed vacation.I’m not afraid of flying, but found myself in tears as the flight attendant issued her pre-flight instructions: “Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” I crumbled, exhausted by my failing efforts to be everything for everyone and all the while ignoring my own needs. I was a fairly new mother, struggling to juggle it all. So self-care was at the bottom of my to-do list. Sitting there—sandwiched between my son and my husband—I realized that in order to keep my family alive, I first need my own air to breathe. The flight attendant’s words have stuck with me as I’ve grown into my role as a parent, though I often still need reminders.  When I was preparing to bring my son to his first eye exam, I wasn’t sure what it would be like since my last eye exam was nearly a decade ago. I suspected that my child needed glasses and my focus was entirely on him. So when I turned to my friends and colleagues to determine what to expect at an eye exam, they wondered why I hadn’t been to an eye doctor for myself. One friend asked me, “How can you model the importance of an eye exam if you aren’t getting them?” Point taken. I made myself an appointment at the same time as my son, and it turns out we both needed glasses after all.While my eye exam experience was a bit embarrassing, I’m not alone in taking care of myself last, especially when it comes to vision care. Nearly two-thirds of all blindness and visual impairment occur in women, yet one in every four women have not had an eye exam in the last two years.*We need to do better—for our families and ourselves. Self-care is a necessity, not an option. We need to safeguard our vision so that we can continue to see clearly the memories that we cherish most.

Here are five ways that you can protect your vision:

  1. Get an eye exam every year. The very first step to caring for your eyes is to get an annual eye exam, which can also detect early symptoms of other health conditions.
  2. Eat eye-healthy foods. A colorful diet is good for your whole body, your eyes included! Check out these 10 eye-healthy foods.
  3. Quit smoking. Smoking has terrible effects on your body and your eyes. People who smoke are more likely to develop eye diseases and cataracts. The more you smoke, the more your risk increases.
  4. Stick to the 20-20-20 rule. If you spend a lot of time with digital devices, your eyes are at risk. You can reduce the impact of the screens by taking a break every 20 minutes to look for 20 seconds at something that is 20 feet away.
  5. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Protect your eyes from damaging UV rays by wearing sunglasses outdoors.

By Brittany Wesely

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