While ophthalmologists--medical doctors who treat the eye--are great when you have an ocular emergency, ideally, you don't want to see one with the frequency with which you visit your primary care provider. Here are six tips for staying out of the ophthalmologist's office on a regular basis.

1. Get a Regular Eye Exam

You should have your eyes examined regularly, from once every few years to annually depending on your age and your risk factors. Your general practitioner can advise you how often you need to go.

If you are at risk for glaucoma due to high blood pressure, diabetes, or of African-American, Asian, or Latino heritage, expect to see the optometrist once a year for a dilated eye exam that checks for glaucoma. The effects of glaucoma can be mitigated with medication and lifestyle changes, but this condition is often asymptomatic until late in its progression.

2. Don't Smoke

Smoking increases your risk for all kinds of eye disease by raising blood pressure, depriving your body of oxygen, and filling your body with dangerous chemicals. These risks are also transferred in many instances to people who are inhaling your secondhand smoke.

Cigarette smoking, for example, puts you at much greater risk of age-related macular degeneration, a disease in which people slowly lose their vision and frequently become blind.

3. Don't Overuse Eye Drops

Overusing over-the-counter eye drops can cause rebound effects where your symptoms actually become worse, much like using nasal sprays. If you suffer from dry, red, or itchy eyes, talk to your doctor about the possibility of prescription drops. Only use any recommended eye drops as directed.

4. Eat Foods That Are Good for Your Eyes

Good eye health can start at the dinner table. Here are some foods that are proven to be good for your eyes:

  • strawberries
  • grapefruit
  • kale, spinach, and leafy green vegetables
  • blueberries
  • wheat germ
  • nuts

These foods are loaded with vitamins that your eyes need, and they offer antioxidant defense from free radicals than can cause cellular damage in eye disease.

5. Use Ophthalmologist-Tested Products

It used to be when you bought makeup or skin care products, you rolled the dice when it came to their long-term effects on your eyes. Now, however, you can purchase items like foundation and makeup remover that are ophthalmologist-tested, so you know they're not going to cause irritation or damage to your eyes.

Here's a tip too for applying creams and lotions around the eye area, like anti-aging treatments: products migrate towards your eye as the day or night goes on. Apply them further out from your eye and let them work their way to the target area, rather than having them wind up in your eyes a few hours after application.

6. Take Good Prenatal Care

As mentioned above, smoking is a terrible habit when it comes to your eyes, and that goes for your unborn child as well. Taking good care of yourself during your pregnancy can help give your baby better eyesight when it's born.

Carrying the baby to term is an important part of this concept. Retinopathy of prematurity is a leading cause of blindness in babies who are born prematurely. When you take your prenatal health seriously with diet, exercise, and proper medical care, you help your baby make it through the entire three trimesters.

Your ophthalmologist is happy to see you when you have a serious eye problem. Meanwhile, however, use these tips above to keep your visits there few and far between, and you'll both feel better for it. Contact a company like Arizona Eye Specialists for more information.