It pays to keep an eye on your eyes. Good vision is an important part of your overall health and wellness, so keeping your eyes in tip-top shape is a must. There are some steps you can take every day that will keep your eye health from going out of focus, ranging from better eating to being more mindful of electronics use. Read on as we share some eye-opening tips on how to keep your vision clear.
Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals can help promote good eye health and protect your vision over time. Look for foods high in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as foods that contain zinc and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Vitamin E works to prevent cataracts and has been linked in studies with slowing down the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Beta-carotene -- a form of Vitamin A -- bolsters your night vision, increasing your eyes’ ability to adjust to darkness.
As for the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin can lower your risk of developing long-term eye diseases like cataracts and AMD. Zinc is good for you because it pairs well with carotenoids, drawing them up into the retina and boosting the amount of protective pigment that's in your macula (the part of your eye that controls central vision). Having more of this pigment can help protect your eye from the harmful impact of blue light emitted by screens and other technology (more on that later).
Omega-3 fatty acids are also important as they work to protect your eyes from glaucoma and AMD. Studies have also found a correlation between dry eyes and having low levels of omega-3. Vitamin C is good for your eyes because it reduces inflammation and thus lowers stress on the blood vessels in your eyes. Regular consumption of Vitamin C can also help reduce the risk of forming cataracts.
Foods rich in some of these nutrients include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
- Bell peppers
- Peanut butter
- Sunflower seeds
- Baked Beans
- Collard greens
Don’t Get The Blues
Our phones, computers, and tablets emit blue light, a form of light that can have an impact on our vision. While the evidence is inconclusive whether or not prolonged exposure to blue light can damage your retina, studies have shown that it does contribute to eye strain and fatigue. That strain -- over time -- could lead to bigger health problems.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use screens! It just means to use them wisely. Refrain from using screens in dark rooms or at night when your vision is already strained by the low light levels. This is also wise because blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, which can make it harder for you to fall asleep. Consider getting a pair of blue blockers -- lens specifically formulated to block out blue light -- if you work long hours on the computer. The glasses can help cut down on eye strain.
Blink Or You’ll Miss It
Another issue related to screens is that we tend to blink less. This is a bad because blinking lubricates our eyes. When our blink rate decreases, that reduces the film of tears covering our eyes and dries them out. You can help correct this by using artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they start to dry out and by taking regular breaks from using devices. Consider implementing the “20-20-20 rule”: every 20 minutes, look at an object that’s at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help “reset” your blinking and give your eyes a moment to relax.
Screen Out The Sun
UV rays are some of the biggest environmental factors in developing eye diseases like AMD, cataracts, and photokeratitis. The sun is constantly bombarding us with UV light, so avoiding the rays entirely is impossible. Wearing sunglasses whenever you go outside will help block the UV light, safeguarding your eyes from UV damage that can spiral into bigger health problems.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Getting an eye exam is a critical part of maintaining your eye health. Many eye problems can be treated if caught early on enough, so it’s good to be vigilant and get checkups. How often you should get your eyes examined depends on several factors, including age and whether you’re asymptomatic or at-risk of developing eye diseases. If your family has a history of eye problems, it’s recommended getting your eyes checked annually (or as recommended by your doctor). Otherwise, at least every two years from ages 18-64 is the rubric (with annual visits after you turn 65).
Article by Austin Brietta
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