How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

by Feb 1, 2022

When it comes to the eyes, you only get two! This means we need to do our best the keep them happy and healthy.

Before we get into our tips for keeping the eyes healthy, we’ll go over the different ocular structures and how the eyes work.


Ocular Anatomy

The eyes are very complex to allow for uninterrupted transmission of light.

The frontmost structure of the eye is called the cornea.

The cornea is clear and is the only part of the eye that contains nerves. This means it is the only structure that can detect pain.

The cornea’s primary job is to bend incoming light rays so that the come to a focus at the backmost structure of the eye, the retina.

The cornea’s secondary job is protection, it keeps bacteria and unwanted debris out of the eye by trapping these objects in the tear film, which is then blinked out of the eye.

Thirdly, the cornea absorbs some UV light to protect the retina from UV damage.

Near the equator of the eye is the crystalline lens.

The crystalline lens is a clear, flexible structure that further bends light so that it comes to a focus point on the retina. The crystalline lens’ flexibility is what allows us to see objects clearly at a variety of distances (far away, intermediate, and near).

Secondarily, the lens also helps to absorb UV light to prevent it from reaching the retina.

Lastly, the backmost structure of the eye is the retina. The retina contains specialized cells called photoreceptors.

Photoreceptors detect light and transmit signals to the brain for image processing. Therefore, the retina is debatably the most important structure of the eye and needs to be protected at all costs.

The retina does not have nerves within it, however. This means the retina cannot transmit pain signals.

Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma, and macular degeneration can all affect the retina resulting in bleeding, death of retinal tissue, and permanent vision loss.

If something is wrong in the retina, we often will not know until it is too late and vision is already decreased. This is the primary reason behind getting annual eye exams—dilation allows doctors to look at the retina and watch for any subtle changes to initiate treatment early on in the disease process.


Tips for Keeping Healthy Eyes

Here are some tips for keeping your eyes healthy. We’ll start from the outside of the eye and work our way in.

Wear safety glasses whenever you are working with machinery or with high velocity moving components. While the cornea does a great job at protecting the eye from dirt and bacteria, it is no match for hot, fast moving, or sharp objects. These sorts of things can easily penetrate the eye leading to an open wound and bad, painful infections. If you think you have gotten something in your eye, immediately call an eyecare professional for evaluation. Do not try to remove an object from your eye yourself.

Always wash off makeup or visible debris from the eyelid margins prior to going to bed each night. While our eyes do have some natural protection, any added debris overnight increases risk for infection. In fact, it is a great habit to carefully clean the eyelid margins when washing your face each evening to help the eyes remove unwanted debris or bacteria. Build up of bacteria along the eyelid margins can result in styes or a skin infection called blepharitis. While these infections are typically mild, they are painful, irritating, and cosmetically unappealing.

When outdoors, wear sunglasses. Excess UV light exposure is known to cause many problems in the eyes including cancer, cataract development, macular degeneration, pingueculas, and pterygiums. Like the rest of the body, the eyes can develop cancer. Cancer within the eye is always nerve wracking as it needs to be detected early and delt with so that it does not overtake the eye or extend into the brain. Cataracts are changes to the crystalline lens. Essentially, the lens slowly turns opaque, obstructing vision. Macular degeneration is a disease process in which wastes accumulate underneath the retina, essentially cutting off its nutrient supply, resulting in slow deterioration of the retina and consequentially, vision loss. Pingueculas and pterygiums are raised areas of growth on the white part of your eyes. It would be the equivalent of a callus on your hand, but on the eye. These growths typically do not cause vision problems, however they can be cosmetically unappealing and may, in some circumstances, grow into the cornea and obstruct vision.

Wear sports goggles when playing sports with possible high-velocity contact. This includes but is not limited to racquetball, tennis, baseball, softball, pickleball, nerf guns, paintball, and range shooting. While most of these objects are not necessarily sharp, they do move at fast speeds. When hit in the eye by one of these objects, it can cause serious damage such as angle recession glaucoma, vitreous hemorrhages, or even retinal detachments. Essentially, in these conditions, delicate structures of the inner eye are ripped out of place, resulting in bleeding and structural damage causing permanent vision loss.

Eat plenty of purple fruits and green, leafy vegetables. Foods like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kale, spinach, and broccoli are loaded with anti-oxidants which help to protect the retina and lens from accumulation of free radicals, which cause damage, such as cataract development or macular degeneration, over time.

Get your eyes evaluated by an optometrist or ophthalmologist yearly. Again, when it comes to the eyes early detection of problems is crucial! Yearly eye exams can help detect problems secondary to hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, high myopia, genetics, and more. We recommend eye exams by the age of 1 year, at 3 years, 5 years, and then yearly after that. Most importantly, if you think there is something wrong with your eyes—eye infection, eye irritation, prescription change, etc. call your eye doctor! We are the eyecare experts, so come to us first. We’re here to help!


Our eye doctors at Neal Eye Group in Conshohocken, PA excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrists at (610) 828-9701 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about how to keep your eyes healthy.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Conshohocken, Norristown, Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, and Philadelphia.

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