A safe driver is experienced, sober, and free from distractions, but it goes without saying that safe driving really starts with good vision. In fact, taking care of your eyes is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you drive as safely and for as long as possible.
Maintain proper eye care by scheduling a comprehensive dilated eye exam. In fact, plan on getting your eyes checked once a year, especially if you’re over the age of 40 or have a family history of eye diseases and conditions. Doing so will allow your doctor to catch eyesight problems and eye diseases early, and early detection and treatment can reduce your risk or prolong onset of vision loss or impairment.
Maintain healthy eyes in between your annual eye exams by following a few tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamin C and E, beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which can help prevent vision loss from eye disease. Good sources include fruit, carrots, dark leafy greens, eggs, fish and fish oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight and prevent Type 2 diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in those under 65, according to Prevent Blindness. The Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School further reports that women who are obese are 36% more likely to develop cataracts.
- Quit smoking to reduce your risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and optic nerve damage.
- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses when out in the sun and protective polycarbonate eyewear when playing sports or doing activities that could potentially harm your eyes.
- Rest your eyes throughout the day, especially if you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing. Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer or whatever you’re focusing on for 20 seconds to reduce eyestrain and fatigue. After two hours of computer use, rest your eyes for 15 minutes.
- Take breaks when driving long distances to reduce eye strain and fatigue.
- Clean your hands and your contacts properly to avoid infection.
And, of course, you can make driving even safer by not driving while impaired and avoiding texting and other distractions while driving. Even if you have 20/20 vision, these dangerous driving behaviors can seriously impair your vision or take your eyes away from the road.