Dr. Michelle Falk enjoys helping Sam’s Club members with their eye health, especially those who are experiencing presbyopia. With presbyopia, the lens of the eye loses its ability to focus, making it difficult to see objects up close.Dr. Falk walks members through their many treatment options, which may include reading glasses (over-the-counter or prescription), bifocals, progressive lenses, mono vision contact lenses or multifocal contact lenses. She spoke to us about the many other things members can do to see more clearly in 2013.

Q With the new year, what lifestyle changes should people make to improve the health of their eyes?

A Quitting smoking. People who smoke are up to four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.Smoking also speeds up the development of cataracts, as well as doubles diabetes risk. Many people with diabetes also develop retinopathy, which can damage vision. Finally, dry eye syndrome (DES) is more than twice as likely to impact smokers.Common symptoms include a stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes, eye redness, a foreign object sensation in your eye, excessive tearing, and difficulty wearing contact lenses.

Q What nutrients should people work into their diets in 2013 for healthier eyes?

AThe old adage you are what you eat holds true for eye health. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collard greens, have a high amount of antioxidants, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help keep the eyes healthy. Furthermore, these foods are great sources of carotenoids, which are pigments found in high concentrations in the macula, the area of the retina responsible for sharp, high-resolution vision. Studies have shown that carotenoids can prevent damage to the macula, known as macular degeneration. The carotenoids support eye health by helping the body fight the damaging effects of free radicals.

Q How can members save money on optical health needs in the new year?

A One of the best ways to save money is to purchase contact lenses in bulk. With most brands of contact lenses, members can take advantage of an additional volume savings discount when purchasing a years supply. Along with the savings, it’s also more convenient. Once you have your annual supply, you wont have to worry about ordering again until after your next eye examination!