Tips for Eye Health in Adults Under 40
Our eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, and both are stimulated by regular exercise. Regular exercise also helps keep our weight in the normal range, which reduces the risk of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. Remember to use sun safety and protective eyewear when enjoying sports and recreation.
Avoiding smoking, or quitting, is one of the best investments you can make in your long-term health. Even though old age seems a long way off, smoking as a young adult can increase your risks for cataracts as well as for cardiovascular diseases that indirectly influence our eyes’ health. Smoking increases the risk of severe vision loss people with other eye diseases as well. And when women smoke during pregnancy, they are more likely to give birth prematurely, putting their babies at higher risk for retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding disease, as well as other health problems. The American Cancer Society offers smoking cessation resources: www.cancer.org.
As we sleep, our eyes enjoy continuous lubrication. Also during sleep the eyes clear out irritants such as dust, allergens, or smoke that may have accumulated during the day.
Some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye are important to our ability to regulate our wake-sleep cycles. This becomes more crucial as we age, when more people have problems with insomnia. While it's important that we protect our eyes from over-exposure to UV light, our eyes also need exposure to some natural light every day to help maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.
It’s important to be aware that some sexually-transmitted diseases can affect the eye. The four leading diseases are:
- Herpes type 1 or 2: Can cause inflammation and scarring of the cornea, inflammation inside the eye, and glaucoma, among other problems.
- Chlamydia: Can be passed to newborns during birth, or be spread to the eyes at any age through touch.
- Gonorrhea: Can be passed to newborns during birth, or be spread to the eyes at any age through touch.
- Syphilis: Is a systemic infection and eye involvement is rising in some areas.
- HIV/AIDS: Related opportunistic infections include toxoplasmosis and CMV retinitis.