ST. LOUIS - When you think of living a healthy lifestyle, typically it’s about exercise and eating healthy.
But, Opthalmologists say your eyes should be an important part of your health. Our obsession with our cell phones and tablets isn’t helping.
An eye doctor 5 On Your Side spoke to says he's seeing more young patients in his office for cataracts. But there are simple things you can do to keep your vision sharper, longer.
Dr. James Rieger underwent cataract surgery on both of his eyes at the end of last year.
Dr. Rieger said, “I always thought when I got cataract surgery I hope Dr. Pepose is still doing the procedure because I thought I'd be in my 70's or 80's. I never thought I'd be in my 50's when I needed it."
Dr. Rieger is actually part of a growing trend of people getting the procedure at a younger age.
Dr. Jay Pepose of The Pepose Vision Institute says there are a number of factors that could be contributing to this trend.
"We see people in their 40's and certainly people in their 50's and 60's. We certainly see cataracts earlier in people who are nearsighted and were seeing an epidemic of nearsightedness now," explained Dr. Pepose.
One of the factors is spending too much time indoors on phones and tablets.
"In the past, kids would be out in the playard and getting a lot of sun and a lot of vitamin D. The visible spectrum of light is different than artificial light. Artificial light doesn’t seem to have the same balance of colors," said Dr. Pepose.
With that in mind, you should be spending at least an hour outdoors in the natural light with the proper protection. The kind of protection baby boomers didn't use and he's seeing a lot of them now.
Dr. Pepose said, "Many of them didn’t wear sunglasses or protectors at that time, so it could be that part of what we’re seeing now. We didn't know when we were 15 years old that sitting there with a reflective visor wasn’t such a good thing."
So, what can you and your kids do now to keep your eyes as healthy as possible? Here’s what the doctors suggest.
1. Spend at least an hour outside in natural light with proper protection.
2. Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
3. Give your eyes a break from constant staring. Every 20 minutes, look away from your work for 20 seconds.
4. If you must stare at a computer or other device for long periods of time you should use natural tears or eyedrops.
5. Use allergy nasal sprays sparingly as they’ve been linked to increasing the risk for cataracts.
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