Taking our eyes for granted is so easy, perhaps you can relate; when I was a kid, my Mom would constantly say to me “eat your carrots, they’re good for your eyes” or “don’t sit so close to the tv”, and “don’t read in the dark, it’s hard on your eyes”. If I had known then what I know now… but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
It’s not too late though, to start caring for your eyes. That’s why in this article we’re exploring ways you can keep your eyes healthy.
One of the best things you can do for your eyes is eat a healthy diet. This actually impacts your sight in a couple of ways. First, a balanced diet reduces your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Secondly the variety of nutrients helps to keep your eyes strong.
- OMEGA 3’s: protect adults from macular degeneration and aid proper drainage of intraocular fluid which decreases the risk of glaucoma. Foods like salmon, nuts, and chia seeds are a great source of omega fatty acids.
- LUTEIN: a carotenoid with anti-inflammatory properties. In particular lutein is known to prevent macular disease. Leafy vegetables are high in lutein, such as kale and spinach. Egg yolks, peppers and grapes are good sources as well.
- ZINC: helping to maintain the retina, cell membranes and protein structure of the eye, zinc is a powerful nutrient. Zinc also helps to produce melanin, which is a pigment that protects the eyes from UV light. Nuts and seeds are high in zinc, as are oysters, red meat, and beans.
- VITAMIN C: not only lowers your risk of developing cataracts, it’s a powerful antioxidant that protects the eyesfrom free radicals. You’ll find citrus fruits to be high in vitamin C, as are strawberries, brussel sprouts, and peppers.
- VITAMIN E: lowering your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, which are the most common age-related conditions that affect your eyes. Eating sunflower seed, almonds, spinach, pumpkin and red peppers will increase your vitamin e.
As we mentioned above, zinc does many awesome things for your eyes, including protecting them from UV rays. No amount of zinc though, can do what a good pair of sunglasses does. Too much UV exposure drastically increases your chances of cataracts as well as macular degeneration.
Sure, pick something that looks good, but be sure they block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound lenses will also help protect the eyes from the side. Polarized lenses don’t necessarily offer more protection, but they do reduce the glare while driving.
Remember to wear your sunglasses in the winter too. Here in the Ottawa area, it’s easy to forget them when there’s snow on the ground, but the glare off the snow can make the sun extra bright. If you wear contact lenses there are some that offer UV protection, but wearing sunglasses is still recommended for an extra layer of safety.
There are several ways that smoking can damage your eyes. Cataracts are likely, so is macular degeneration as well as damage to the optic nerve. Finally giving up smoking is one of the biggest impacts you can have on your eye’s health.
STOP STARING AT YOUR SCREEN
It’s hard to not have a screen in front of your face these days; working on a computer, taking breaks to check our phones, and then relaxing at the end of the day in front of the tv. Unfortunately, staring at any of those screens for too long causes eye strain, leading to blurry vision. You’ll notice your eyes are dryer and you have trouble focusing on items far away. Headaches, neck, back and shoulder pain also come from staring at a screen too long.
To protect your eyes from the screen:
- Ensure your glasses prescription is up to date.
- Move the screen so the top of the monitor is at eye level, this allows you to look down slightly at the screen.
- Try bluescreening glasses; they’re lightly tinted to take the edge off the strain.
- Blink often and use artificial tears to prevent your eyes from drying.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
- Get up and stretch every 2 hours, during this break avoid looking at another screen.