A lifetime of good eye health starts with making smart choices.
Besides making you look effortlessly chic (of course), sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. It's important to wear them even on gloomy days, says Vincent Hau, MD, ophthalmologist at Kaiser Permanente in California. Buying a new pair? Make sure the label says it blocks 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
Even if can comfortably Netflix and chill when the TV is 20 feet away (without glasses), you should still schedule an annual appointment with your eye doc. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends getting a baseline eye exam at age 40, when eye diseases like glaucoma may surface. Spotting eye conditions early can prevent their progression.
"One of the worst things I see is permanent eye damage from an infection simply because someone hasn't followed proper lens hygiene," says Hau. Always remove your s before bed (yep, even if they are extended wears). Keeping them in too long reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches eyes, and can lead to some seriously...unsightly problems.
A Mediterranean-inspired diet heavy on fruit, veggies and yes, olive oil, can help cut your risk for age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50) by 35 percent. That's because the diet is rich in eyesight-preserving antioxidants, according to research.
Need another reason to stay active? In a study on over 40,000 runners, hoofing it more than two miles a day reduced risk of macular degeneration. If running's not your thing, no worries—plan to fit in another aerobic exercise, like Zumba.
Fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. A recent study found that people with diabetes who got 500 mg of omega 3s per day cut their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy (a complication that can lead to blindness) in half, versus those who didn't meet that recommendation. To get the amount you need, cook up one of these super easy recipes twice a week.
Glued to your computer screen, much? Eye fatigue and strain are real problems caused by staring at a screen for six to 10 hours a day. Combat them by following what eye docs call the 20-20-20 rule: Set a reminder every 20 minutes on your phone or computer, and when it dings, look away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Forgive the grossness, but a mascara tube is basically just an incubator for bacteria. "The dark, damp environment allows for germs to grow easily, exposing your eyes to infection-causing bacteria," says Hau. While mascaras contain preservatives to kill the nastiness, they don't last indefinitely: Replace your tube at least every six months.