How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Dr. Susan MacDonald, director of Comprehensive Ophthalmology at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, Mass., offers these tips for keeping your eyes healthy:

   Everyone over age 40 should have an eye exam every 4 to 6 years. Certain diseases, like glaucoma, have no symptoms until they are severe enough to cause vision loss, although eye tests can detect it.

   Quit smoking. Smoking increases the risk of developing macular degeneration, a common eye disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. This risk is higher for women who smoke.

   Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light exposure by wearing a pair of sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB light. Some contact lenses and most regular eyeglasses also have this protection. There is some evidence that UV light can lead to cataracts.

   Eat well. A health diet low in cholesterol protects against macular degeneration. So does keeping your blood cholesterol low.