April showers bring May flowers – so the saying goes. But how can you enjoy those flowers if you can’t see them clearly? May is vision health month, and with so many people looking at screens all day, eye health has become more important than ever.

Whether or not your days include hours of screen time, we’ve got some tips on how to make sure your eyesight is the best it can be.

Visit Your Eye Doctor
This is the place to be when it comes to your vision and it’s never too early to start! Optometrists recommend getting your first exam between 6 to 9 months old and yearly after that. The exam usually consists of tests to check the quality of your vision and look for any eye disease. Checking in with your eye doctor helps to catch any problems early and can give you the tools and tips you need to make sure you’re taking good care of your eyes.

Make Sure You Have Coverage
Just like with other parts of your health, it’s so important to make sure you have good insurance coverage for your vision care. The cost of eye exams, contacts and glasses can add up. At GMS, our individual and group health plans have lots of different options for vision care, depending on what you’re looking for.

Eat A Healthy Diet
You probably don’t have your eye health in mind when you’re at the grocery store, but research shows what you eat can affect your eyesight. Certain vitamins and minerals can help prevent things like cataracts and other age-related vision issues. Vitamins A, C, and E, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin and the mineral zinc have all been found to help with vision. Include these foods in your diet to give you a big boost of the nutrients your eyes need:

  • Leafy greens like broccoli, spinach and Brussel sprouts
  • Flaxseed, almonds, chickpeas sunflower seeds
  • Salmon, halibut and tuna
  • Oranges, strawberries, kiwi and grapefruit

Say Goodbye to Smoking
Cancer, heart and lung disease are the health issues most commonly associated with smoking, but it can also impair your vision. Studies show smoking can cause cataracts, thyroid eye disease and macular degeneration, which causes blindness.  Giving up smoking can be a real challenge. Fortunately, all GMS Personal Health plans come with LifeWorks, a wellness program loaded with tools, resources and counselling to help you beat the nicotine habit.

Grab a Pair of Sunglasses
When it comes to staying safe in the sun, good sunglasses are as important as good sunscreen for protection. Too much sun exposure is also a cause of cataracts, macular degeneration – and eyelid cancer. Your shades are about much more than looking cool - you need to make sure they cover your eyes and the lenses provide UVA and UVB protection. Of course you can still have fun with them! There are many stylish sun shade options that also give your eyes the protection they need.

Use Protection When You Need It
If you have the potential for an eye injury at work or doing an activity, you need to protect your eyes.  In Canada, it’s estimated that 200 people per day have an eye injury at work. With the right protection, 90 per cent of those injuries can be prevented. If you work in an industry where your vision could be at risk, make sure you’re wearing the proper safety goggles, face shields or eye guards. The same goes for sports like hockey, lacrosse or squash – get the right gear so you can continue to play safe and have fun.

Take a Break from the Screen
Yes, most of us are spending more time staring at screens these days and our eyes are paying for it. There are a few steps you can take to make sure you’re protecting your vision.

  • Remember to blink - it’s how our eyes get moisture.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Make sure you’re sitting at least 25 inches away from the screen and position it so you are looking slightly downward.
  • Adjust your screen brightness to be the same as the room you’re working in – this reduces eye strain.

It’s never too late or too early to take care of your eye health. Use these tips to help you keep your eyes the best they can be – so you can continue seeing all the amazing things around you every day!