13. Wear sunglasses whenever you leave the house. When researchers examined the relationship between exposure to sunlight and cataracts or ARMD in Chesapeake Bay fishermen, they found that fishermen who protected their eyes from the harsh glare of the sun and its damaging UV rays were significantly less likely to develop these conditions than those who went bare-eyed. Wear the sunglasses even when it’s not sunny out, says Dr. Sheppard. They protect your eyes from the drying effects of wind.
14. Wear a broad-brimmed hat along with your sunglasses. A wide-brimmed hat or cap will block roughly 50 percent of the UV radiation and reduce the UV radiation that may enter your eyes from above or around glasses.
15. Pick some Southern greens for dinner tonight. Because they are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, greens like collards and kale (delicious when lightly steamed with a splash of hot pepper vinegar) may reduce your risk of developing both cataracts and ARMD, and may even slow progression of these diseases once they’ve begun. Both have strong antioxidant properties, which may help repair some of the damage that contributes to both conditions.
16. Roast some fresh beets for an eye-saving side dish. Beets get their deep red color from phytochemicals called anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect the smaller blood vessels in your body, including those in your eyes.
17. Switch to “lite” salt or use spices and herbs instead of salt. Studies find that high-salt diets increase your risk of certain types of cataracts, so stay away from the salty stuff. And while you’re de-salting your diet, don’t forget the salt in processed foods. Check labels for “no-salt” or “no-sodium,” or “low-salt” or “low-sodium” tags when buying canned and other prepared foods.
18. Dab an essential oil of jasmine, peppermint, or vanilla on your arm and sniff. Jasmine, says scent researcher Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., of the Chicago-based Smell and Taste Treatment Research Foundation, increases the beta waves in the frontal lobes of your brain, promoting wakefulness and enabling you to focus better and see things more acutely. All three scents stimulate the limbic system in your brain, which, in turn, stimulates the rods in your eyes, which help you see in dim light.
19. When you’re working or reading, set your alarm to beep every 30 minutes. Use this as a reminder to look up and away from your computer or book to some distant point for 30 seconds. This helps prevent eye fatigue and eyestrain.
20. Check your blood pressure every month. You can do this yourself with a home blood pressure kit, at the doctor’s office, or at the pharmacy. The two leading causes of blindness in the United States are high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which damage blood vessels.
21. Replace your mascara every three months and other eye makeup once a year. Eye makeup is a great repository for bacteria, which can easily be transferred to your eyes and cause infections.
22. Use eye makeup remover every night before going to bed. This prevents small pieces of mascara from winding up in your eye and possibly scratching your cornea.
23. Wear goggles when you’re doing carpentry or even yard work. Debris in the eye can lead to corneal abrasions, which can ultimately damage your vision. Also use protective goggles when you’re swimming to protect your eyes from the chlorine.
24. Use a fresh towel every time you wipe your face. Sharing face towels is a great way to get conjunctivitis, the infection also known as pinkeye.
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