hargraveeyecenter1The Hargrave Eye Center, located at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, is a full-service, comprehensive eye center.  Sylvia Hargrave, MD, FACS, founded the center in 2003.  The focus is not only on accurate diagnosis and treatment of medical and surgical diseases of the eye, but also on disease prevention. Ocular disease prevention is directed toward preventing the initial occurrence of a disorder.  Disease prevention requires action and should be thought of as an active process.  Here, individuals or populations that are considered to be at risk for a specific disease are evaluated for risk factors or risk behaviors that increase the likelihood of developing disease. Eye disease prevention covers measures not only to prevent the occurrence of disease, such as risk factor reduction, but also seeks to arrest disease progress and reduce disease sequelae.

Disease prevention has both primary and secondary components.  Primary prevention is directed towards preventing the initial occurrence of a disorder. Secondary disease prevention seeks to slow the progression of existing through early detection and appropriate treatment.  Secondary prevention also seeks to reduce the occurrence of relapses and the establishment of chronic conditions through, for example, effective rehabilitation.

The Hargrave Eye Center is dedicated toward teaching patient how to maintain good, if not excellent eye health.  Healthy eyes are an important part of a healthy body.  There are many things that people can do to keep their eyes healthy.  When you take good care of your eyes, you take good care of yourself.  There are many things that you can do proactively to keep your eyes healthy and make sure that you are seeing you best.  By following the several simple tips provided by The Hargrave Eye Center, you can maintain healthy eyes and good vision well into your golden years. Our tips for maintaining good eye health are discussed below.

Have a comprehensive dilated eye examination

You may think that you vision is fine and that your eyes are healthy; however, visiting an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive dilated eye examination is the only way to assess the health of your eyes.  Sometimes people do not realize that they can improve upon their vision with glasses or contact lenses.  During this type of examination, the ophthalmologist will place drops into your eyes.  These drops widen the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye and allow the physician to see the back of the eye.

Additionally, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration can be present without any symptoms or warning signs.  These conditions are potentially blinding and a dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their earliest stages.  Early detection and treatment is the most effect way to prevent blindness.

Learn about your eye health family history

Talk to your immediate and extended family members about their eye health history. It is very important to know if anyone in the family has been diagnosed with an ocular disease since some of these conditions can be hereditary. This information will help determine if you are at an increased risk for developing certain eye diseases or conditions.

Eat for good vision

Protecting your eyes starts with the food on your plate. Many of us have heard that carrots are good for the eyes; however, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy green is important for keeping our eyes healthy also.  Studies have shown that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, selenium, and vitamins C and E may help slow the progression of or even ward off macular degeneration can cataracts.  Eating a well-balanced diet also helps people maintain a healthy weight.  People who maintain a healthy weight are less likely to develop obesity-related type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in American adults.  Regularly eating these foods can help lead to good eye health:

  • green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and collards eggs,
  • nuts beans and legumes salmon, tuna, halibut, and other oily fish
  • oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit

Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight increases the risk of developing many systemic diseases including hypertension and diabetes.  These conditions in turn can lead to the development of eye conditions that can lead to vision loss.  Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can be seen in some patient with diabetes.  Abnormal blood vessels grow in the back of the eye and can leak or bleed which leads to visual loss.  If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your primary care doctor.

Quit smoking for better eyesight

Smoking is as bad for the eyes as it is for the rest of the body.  Research has shown that smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and optic nerve damage.  All of these conditions can lead to visual loss and potential blindness.  Again, if you are having trouble quitting, talk to your primary care doctor about the different types of smoking cessation programs that are available.

Wear sunglasses for good vision

The sun produces ultraviolet (UV) rays.  Exposure to these rays over time increases the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration and pinguecula or pterygia (benign growths on the surface of the eye).  Sunglasses are not only a great fashion accessory, but they are the best way to protect the eyes from these potentially harmful rays.  Purchase sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.  Wrap-around sunglasses help to protect the eyes from side light.  Polarized lenses reduce glare when driving. Contact lenses do offer some UV protection; however, it is still beneficial to wear sunglasses for added protection.

Wear protective eyewear at home, work, or while playing sports

Employers are required to provide a safe work environment.  When protective eyewear is required at work, make sure that you wear this eyewear at all times and encourage your co-workers to do the same.  If you work with hazardous or airborne materials at home or work, wear safety glasses or protective safety goggles every time.

Certain sports can also lead to eye injury.  Ice hockey, racquetball, lacrosse, baseball, and paintball games are some of the most common sports for associated eye injuries.  Wear eye protection to shield the eyes.  This protection can come in the form of protective glasses (rec-specs®, helmets with protective face masks, or sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses).

Give your eyes a rest

Staring at a computer screen can lead to eyestrain, blurry vision, dry eyes, neck/back/shoulder pain, and headaches.  Studies have shown that people who spend long hours working on the computer do not blink as frequently as they should.  Blinking helps to spread tears over the surface of the eye.  These tears not only nourish and lubricate the eye, but they also are the most important surface for good vision.  Without a healthy tear film, people can experience blurred vision. If you spend a lot of time on the computer focusing on the screen, consider the 20-20-20 rule.  Every 20 minute, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.  This exercise can help to reduce eyestrain.  Artificial tear lubricating eyes drops can also be used while working on the computer to help lubricate the eyes.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology currently recommends that people who work on the computer for long periods of time do the following:

  1. Use a current glasses or contact lens prescription.
  2. Some people over 40 years of age may need a special prescription specifically for computer use.
  3. Some people may also need glasses to help with contrast, glare and eyestrain when using a computer.
  4. Position your computer so that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor which allows you to look slightly down at the screen.
  5. Try to avoid glare on the computer screen from windows and lights.
  6. Use an anti-glare computer screen if necessary.
  7. Choose a comfortable and supportive chair with your feet positioned so that they are flat on the floor.
  8. If your eyes are dry, blink more or use artificial over-the-counter lubricants.
  9. Remember 20-20-20.