The Right Habits Enhance a Full Visual Lifestyle
Be honest with yourself. If I asked for a list of everything you ate last week, would you be embarrassed to show me? Or if I asked when you had your last physical, would you be ashamed to tell me? If so, why are you eating things that you’d be embarrassed to tell your eye doctor (or any doctor, for that matter)? Why are you putting off such an important matter as personal health? It’s no secret that proper health and nutrition support and maintain body systems, and the eyes are no exception. So how are you doing?
I’ll Do Whatever It Takes, Doc…Except Change My Habits
When I discuss the habits needed to maintain vision and eye health, many patients respond with a strange paradox. Most people want more than anything to preserve their good vision, but many refuse to do what’s needed. Worse, many of these people know they have eye diseases that threaten their vision. Most patients in both categories will declare a keen interest in doing anything they can to maintain good vision. Often, the conversation goes like this:
“Doctor Andy, I will do anything to keep my eyes healthy and preserve my vision.”
I will then outline a set of proven medical treatments, lifestyle changes, and materials needed to do just that. And then the reply comes:
“Well, I can’t do that.”
We’re Creatures of Habit, and We Need to Make a Habit of Improving Ourselves
Why would anyone go to a doctor for help and then immediately reject a simple solution to a problem? For one, it’s not easy to implement a new habit or set of habits. For example, when I mention eating six to eight servings per day of colorful fruits and vegetables, I get a wide range of responses. Some people will tell me they already do that. Others may say “if it doesn’t come in a fast food bag, I don’t eat it.” Naturally, the person with the first response will be more receptive to diet and lifestyle changes than the second.
Most people are very interested in good vision and eye health, but for some the obstacle of change can appear too big to overcome. Indeed, many patients simply “shut down” during an exam; they’re so distracted by the thought of changing habits they quit listening.
There’s No Magic Pill for Good Vision
Don’t get me wrong. There are a wealth of medications, diagnostic tests, treatments, and products that can improve our visual lifestyles. However, none of these should replace a foundation of proper health, eye, and vision care.
There are several reasons people may be disappointed when they hear simple, habitual solutions for maintaining good vision and eye health and treating vision problems. Don’t get caught by these. While they may seem legitimate, each challenge can be overcome. Here’s the list:
- It’s too hard: most adults know their habits are ingrained and changing them will be a challenge
- It’s too easy: “it can’t be that simple, surely there’s a catch”
- We’ve heard it before: the benefits of health and nutrition are no secret
- We haven’t heard it before: I still have patients who have never made the connection between good habits and a healthy body and eyes
- We want an easy fix: “can’t I just have a pill, or maybe new glasses?”
- We don’t understand: most people haven’t studied the complexities of the visual systems
- We see well enough, for now: as a doctor, one of the most challenging things I do is convince a patient with good vision to change his or her lifestyle
We must realize we are creatures of habit. So there is no such thing as “stopping” a poor habit. It must be replaced with a good one. And, in order to replace poor habits with good ones we will have to put forth some effort. The sooner we come to terms with this idea, the sooner we can get started living the visual lifestyle.