While all of our senses are important, there is little doubt that our eyesight is the one that we rely on the most. In fact, 80% of what we perceive comes to us through what we see with our own eyes. For this reason alone, keeping our eyes as healthy as possible should be a significant priority when it comes to our own self-care.
Unfortunately, it is easy to neglect our eyes since they rarely actually cause us to experience pain when there is a problem. There are a range of different eye diseases that can affect us, such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. While the risk factors for each vary, there are plenty of things that we can do to boost the health and function of our eyes.
The right nutrition
What we eat affects our eyesight as well as our overall health and wellbeing, and there are particular nutrients that may be able to help prevent certain vision problems, including cataracts and macular degeneration. These include vitamins C & E, zinc, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in foods such as:
- Non-meat sources of protein such as nuts, eggs and beans
- Salmon, tuna and other types of oily fish
- Orange, grapefruit and other citrus juices and fruits
- Dark, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
Eating right can also help you to manage your weight, and this can help prevent diabetes and associated loss of vision, known as diabetic retinopathy.
Stub out the cigarettes
Unless you have been living on Mars you know that smoking is bad for your health. However, far fewer people realize that it can also contribute towards the development of some ocular conditions including cataracts and macular degeneration. Some studies have also shown that smoking speeds up the natural age-related degeneration of our eyesight. If you quit smoking, we guarantee that your body will thank you by functioning better and preserving your health for longer.
Protect your eyes
Our eyes are extremely fragile and this means that they can be easily damaged by a variety of factors, including UVA and UVB rays and exposure to chemicals. Our eyes can also be put at risk by certain activities that we take part in, such as fast ball sports like tennis or lacrosse, woodworking or using chemicals. For this reason, all opticians recommend that patients use protective eyewear wherever appropriate. Using sunglasses can help prevent our eyes from being affected by harmful UVA and UVB rays, while goggles can be used to keep our eyes safe in some working environments.
Take regular screen breaks
We spend longer looking at screens than ever before, whether it be our cell phones, our iPads or computers. Unfortunately, this can cause us to develop a range of conditions including eye strain, blurry vision, headaches, dry eyes and trouble focusing. Taking regular breaks from looking at a screen can help ‘reset’ our eyes and reduce the strain on them, enabling them to be healthier and more comfortable than before. Aim for a 5-minute break at least every 60 minutes and get completely away from the screen if you can, so that your eyes can focus on things that are at a distance rather than a few inches away from your nose!
Get regular eye exams
Most people think that opticians are only there to check whether you need prescription glasses or contact lenses. However, your optician also has the training and experience to be able to spot potential ocular health problems early, therefore enabling you to get started with treatment quickly, before they have a significant impact on your eyesight. Your optician will recommend exactly how often you should visit, and this will be based on your vision and your ocular health.
If you would like more advice on the best ways to keep your eyes healthy, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly, experienced team.