Eye Care for Good Vision
People often believe that failing eyesight is an inevitable result of aging or eye strain. In truth, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of eye health problems. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), published in 2001, found that certain nutrients — zinc, copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene — may reduce the risk of age-related decline in eye health by 25 percent.
This study was updated in 2013 to test different versions of the original formula. The variations included omega-3 fatty acids, zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene; the study found that certain combinations may work better than others. Further studies agree that omega-3 fatty acids (including DHA), copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin are vital for eye health.
best foods for eye health
Organizations such as the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) continue to recommend nutrients for eye health based on the AREDS reports.
Many fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Oily fish are fish that have oil in their gut and body tissue, so eating them offers higher levels of omega-3-rich fish oil. The fish that contains the most beneficial levels of omega-3s include:
Some studies have found that fish oil can reverse dry eye, including dry eye caused by spending too much time on a computer.
Nuts and legumes
Nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts also contain a high level of vitamin E, which can protect the eye from age-related damage.
Nuts are available for purchase in most grocery stores and online. Nuts and legumes that are good for eye health include:
- Brazil nuts
Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E. Seeds are available for purchase in most grocery stores and online. Seeds high in omega-3 include:
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- hemp seeds
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Just like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is recommended by the AOA to fight age-related eye damage.
Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits include:
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich in both lutein and zeaxanthin and are also a good source of eye-friendly vitamin C.
Well-known leafy greens include:
Find out if you’re at risk for eye diseases
Getting older increases your risk of some eye diseases. You might also have a higher risk of some eye diseases if you:
- Are overweight or obese
- Have a family history of eye disease
- Are African American, Hispanic, or Native American
Other health conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, can also increase your risk of some eye diseases. For example, people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy — an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness.
If you’re worried you might be at risk for some eye diseases, talk to your doctor. You may be able to take steps to lower your risk.
Know your family’s health history. Talk with your family members to find out if they’ve had any eye problems. Some eye diseases and conditions run in families, like age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. Be sure to tell your eye doctor if any eye diseases run in your family.
Ways to Take Care of Your Eyes Everyday
Eye problems can be easily prevented if you practice essential eye care habits everyday. Surprisingly, they are very practical and easy to accomplish yet they tend to be the most neglected.
To maintain your eye health and to keep your vision sharp, here are twelve things that should be part of your daily routine.
1. Avoid rubbing your eyes.
The hands are exposed to a lot of dirt, dust and bacteria, and all of these can be easily transferred to your peepers each time you touch or rub them. So avoid putting your hands to your eyes to prevent infection and irritation. If the habit is so ingrained on you, make an effort to get rid of it as soon as possible.
2. Practice frequent hand washing.
Wash your hands regularly to keep bacteria at bay and prevent them from getting in contact with your eyes, eyeglasses, and contact lenses.
3. Protect your eyes from the sun.
Exposure to sunlight and UV rays increases your risk for age-related macular degeneration and may cause cornea sunburn or photokeratitis. So aside from making a fashion statement and adding oomph to your overall look, put on those sunglasses to protect your eyes. If wearing them is not up your alley, UV-protected eyeglasses or contact lenses will do. Putting on caps, visors and hats are also advisable.
4. Stay hydrated.
Sufficient fluid intake is essential to your body’s overall wellbeing, including the eyes. If you’re hydrated enough, you prevent your eyes from getting dry and irritated.
5. Don’t smoke.
Smoking makes you more susceptible to age-related macular degeneration and other eye conditions such as cataract. Smoking can also damage the optic nerves, which can have adverse effects on your vision overtime.
6. Keep a balanced diet.
Beta-carotene, Lutein, Omega-3, Lycopene, and Vitamins C, A, and E are essential for maintaining your eye health. Make sure that your diet is infused with different foods that are rich in those nutrients.
7. Keep proper monitor distance and room lighting.
Computer monitors should be positioned about an arm’s length away from the eyes and 20 degrees below eye level. This keeps your eyes from getting strained. Likewise, make sure that you have sufficient but diffused lighting in your room. Focused and too bright lights may result to glare, and this can put too much stress on the eyes.
Take Care with Screen Time
Looking at computer, tablet, TV, and smartphone screens may make your eyes tired and cause eyestrain. Blue light from screens may also damage your eyes. Follow the 20-20-20 rule when logging screen time. This means for every 20 minutes you look at device screen, you should gaze at something that is at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Use good ergonomics when you are on the computer. Make sure that the screen is at eye level or slightly lower. Sit so you are at approximately 25 inches away from the screen. Make sure you have adequate lighting when you are on the computer. Screen filters are available to minimize glare.
Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
You know that ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can burn your skin, but did you know they can also harm your eyes? Potential eye health problems that result from excessive UV sun exposure include cornea burns, cataracts, and macular degeneration. You may even develop skin cancer on the eyelids. Always wear sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB ray when you are outside, even on cloudy days. Effective sunglasses do not have to be expensive. Read the label to see the level of protection against UV exposure that they offer. Remember that certain things reflect UV rays including concrete, sand, snow, and water. You can also rely on wide-brimmed hats and umbrellas to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays.
Guard Your Eyes at Work and at Home
Eye injuries are common at home and on the job. Every day in the U.S., approximately 2,000 people injure their eyes at work and require medical treatment. Experts estimate that more than 90% of eye injuries may be prevented if people wore adequate eye protection. Wear safety glasses when you are working on projects at work or at home that may send debris airborne and into your eyes. Wear protective glasses or goggles when playing sports that put your eyes at risk like lacrosse, baseball, softball, basketball, and racket sports. Polycarbonate lenses offer maximum protection because they are more resistant to impact than other materials.
Nourish Your Eyes
The same foods that are protective of blood vessels in your heart are also good for those in your eyes. Eat plenty of whole foods including grains, dark leafy greens, and citrus fruits. Nutrients like zinc, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are especially protective for your eyesight. They help ward off age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or slow its progression if you already have it. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, poultry, and lean meat. Vegetarian sources of zinc include beans, peanuts, and peas. Beta-carotene is found in brightly-colored yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. Your body turns into vitamin A that benefits eyesight. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens. Lower amounts of these nutrients are found in corn, green peas, broccoli, romaine lettuce, and eggs. Ask your eye doctor whether you would benefit from taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement formulated to protect eye health.