As an optometrist, I get a lot of questions from concerned patients looking for tips on eye health. The most worried patients are the ones that have a relative or friend currently suffering from the effects of eye disease such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration. The most common question I get asked is, “what preventative eye care steps can I take to protect my eyes from getting worse?”.
So, I wanted to go over five of the best ways you can protect your eyes and get peace of mind.
1 | Eat Foods for Eye Health
Many foods contain sources of vitamins that go a long way in helping protect your eyes from certain eye diseases and conditions. Vitamins A, C, and E are especially good for the health of the retina (back of the eye) as well as helping to slow down the progression of cataracts and macular degeneration.
You can get vitamins A, C, and E from many sources of food. Vitamin A can be found in carrots, which are also rich in beta carotene. Vitamin C can be found in leafy greens such as kale, or citrus fruits such as oranges. Lastly, nuts and seeds are a good source of vitamin E.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are specific for helping with macular degeneration, and to preserve the health of the retina. They also help with keeping your night vision working properly, and block some of the harmful blue light from your digital devices. You can find high levels of both lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs.
If you are not able to eat certain foods, think about taking vitamins for your eye health.
2 | Aerobic Exercise Is Good for Your Eyes
Did you know that exercises like walking, biking, and swimming are not only good for your body but also good for your eyes?
When you move your body, it increases the circulation of the blood in your heart, lungs, and especially your retina.
It helps with macular degeneration in particular since that part of the eye is very oxygen dependent. When there’s not enough blood and oxygen to the photoreceptor cells in the retina, they start to die.
So, think about starting an aerobic exercise regimen of 20-30 minutes a day so that the retina can get its needed blood supply and operate at its optimal performance.
3 | Resting Your Eyes
In this digital world, you are asking your eyes to focus on smartphones, tablets, or computer screen for hours at a time. This creates a ton of eye strain, fatigue, and irritation to the eyes daily.
Consider doing the 20-20-20 rule for your eyes, which means looking away from your computer screen for more than 20 feet, every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds. When your eyes get regular breaks, they will strain less and become more effective in focusing on your digital device.
Another trick you can use is to refrigerate artificial tears and put them in both eyes an hour before leaving work. This will ensure that your eyes are fully awake and alert for that drive home, especially in the winter months where it’s already dark and driving conditions are less than optimal.
If all else fails, consider a pair of blue light filtering reading glasses.
4 | Operate Your Eyes Comfortably
Our eyes have to overcome lots of adverse environmental conditions and still provide optimal vision. To make it easier for your eyes to do that, I suggest the following:
- Wear eyeglasses that are coated with anti-reflective coating to get rid of glare
- Wear sunglasses that are polarized when you are outdoors to prevent UV damage to your eyes
- Turn the brightness down to comfortable levels on your computer screen
- Have good posture when working on your computer
- Place your computer screen at arm’s length so that your eyes don’t have to exert too much effort to focus. The farther away the screen the less effort your eyes have to exert.
- Use artificial tears to soothe dry eyes when working in a dusty environment or when swimming in a pool to wash out the chlorine.
All these suggestions can impact the quality of your vision as well as the quality of your daily activities.
5 | Get a Regular Eye Exam
As an eye doctor, I know that I’m being biased with this point but in 25 years of practice, I have saved quite a few patients from going blind by detecting eye diseases before they do significant damage.
Most people think of an eye exam as just adjusting your eyeglass or contact lens prescription so that you see better, However, it also does a battery of tests designed to detect eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration.
When detected early, all these eye diseases can be managed and treated. So, consider making an appointment for an eye exam today.
Your Eyes Are Worth It
It takes an investment of time, effort, and money to implement all the suggestions above. However, your sight is the most important out of the five senses that you possess. As much as 80% of how you interact with the world is through your eyes. Isn’t it worth it to make sure that you keep and maintain this vital organ?