RALEIGH (WTVD) -- At the start of every New Year, many people put improving health at the top of their resolutions. However, it's important to focus on your eye health as well.
Eye Care Associates, a MyEyeDr. company in Raleigh, recommends five steps to protect your eyesight.
The company says wearing sunglasses can help prevent cancer, eye sunburn, cataracts, and macular degeneration. This is important all year long, not just in summer months.
The second tip is eating well to see well. Loading up on leafy greens, nuts, and shellfish can keep eyes healthy and sharp. Drinking plenty of water can help prevent dry eyes in the winter time.
Next, doctors say to look away from the computer screen. They recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away or more for at least 20 seconds to help relax your eyes and prevent eye strain.
Fourth, kick the cigarettes. Doctors say smoking increases the risk of cataracts, macular degenerations, glaucoma, and loss of vision.
Finally, book an appointment with a trusted optometrist at least once a year.
"A lot of eye health related things don't have warning signs you're really going to notice until they've actually taken vision or caused some severe damage, and having a routine eye exam and having someone take a look at those eyes is very important for preventative reasons," points out Dr. Artis Beatty, the Clinical Director for Eye Care Associates of Raleigh.
He also says not to let the cost of the exam be a deterrent. In fact, there's a good chance insurance already covers it.
"A lot of patients think that if they don't have a vision policy then they can't have an eye exam, but a lot of medical policies will cover that," he further explains.
If it's a fear of paying for a new pair of glasses that has you avoiding your annual trip, you can prepare for that, too.
"Flex spending has become an excellent way to fund your eye exam, starting in the beginning of the year when you sign up you can budget amounts that will be used not just toward your eye exam but any eyewear or contacts that you might need throughout the year," says Dr. Beatty.
As a MyEyeDr. Company, Dr. Beatty also adds that his staff will work with customers to find a way to afford their treatment. This is primarily because they feel eye health is so important.
If you don't have a trusted optometrist and are looking for one, he advises asking family and friends for their recommendations. He also recommends visiting the Board of Optometry's website for a complete list of all the doctors in your area.
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5 Tips for Protecting your Eyesight in the New Year