Caring for your forks
There's really not much that can go wrong with your forks, short of an accident. The #1 threat to them is, in fact, leaking fork seals. This is easily avoided with a little preventive maintenance.
Rock dings are the enemy of your forks. A rock that hits the forks and leaves a mark tends to push the material inwards, just as a meteor hitting the surface of the earth does. That material has to displace somewhere, so it moves out and up. If the bump it leaves is big enough, it will take pieces out of your fork seals as they travel up and down. This results in eventual failure. Petrified bug guts can also kill the seals.
First of all, make a habit of cleaning your forks regularly to remove any road grime/bugs. Extend the forks fully by getting the front wheel off the ground. For the dings, take some 2000 grit sandpaper and cut it into strips. Create a cross-hatch (go up & down & round & round) on the entire length of the fork that the oil seal slides over. This will knock down the edges on the rock dings, clean off imperfections, and allow the seals to last longer.
The important part of all this is that there should be no sharp burs from rust that will cut your seals... light scratches will be less damaging to the seals than seriously raised edges.
This may sound like harsh treatment, and you WILL see visible scratching. But these scratches don't do anything (negative) to the seals. It is a tried and true method used by all the major suspension service shops. It also did well for Brian on his '87 VFR. ~30 sandings in 117,000 miles kept the fork seals in repair and didn't damage anything. This little bit of maintenance can take forks from a state that won't allow them to be used (due to destroying fork seals) and make them usable again.
Rust or dings high on the forks legs, beyond the area of suspension travel, are cosmetic. You can do what you like with them.
Fork guards can help reduce this problem.