We think so much about and work hard to maintain certain aspects of our health while taking other aspects for granted. For instance your eye health. When was the last time you really considered how the choices you make impact your vision? Think about everything your vision allows you to do: enjoy a sunset, read a good book, look at your loved ones, and just generally move around in the world easily.
Our vision is incredibly important to our quality of life, and in fact, according to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) annual American Eye-Q® survey, 40% of Americans worry about losing their eyesight over their ability to hear or even walk. If it’s suddenly dawning on you right now that you don’t do enough to maintain good eye sight, read on to learn how you can protect your vision.
5 Foods for Healthy Eyes
If I were to ask you right now what some of the best foods for your vision are, you’d probably blurt out carrots. We have all heard for many years that carrots, and other orange-colored fruits and veggies, promote good eye health because of the Beta-carotene they contain. And it is true that Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A and the nutrient that gives these foods their orange color, does help our eyes’ retinas and other parts function properly.
But there are many other foods and nutrients that play an equally essential role in maintaining good eye health. Here are five foods that, if you’re not eating regularly already, should be incorporated into your diet to promote eye health.
Studies have shown that the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin have the ability to lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts. So, grab a bag of spinach or kale during your next shopping trip and start adding them to your salads or saute with a little garlic and olive oil for a tasty side dish.
And speaking of good sources of lutein and zeazanthin, did you know that egg yolks contain a whole bunch of both? They also contain zinc, which is also effective in reducing macular degeneration. For far too many years egg yolks have been demonized, but recent studies have concluded once and for all that eggs do NOT raise cholesterol and are not bad for you. The truth is, egg yolks contain many nutrients beneficial to our health.
Citrus and Berries
Vitamin C is also incredibly beneficial to our eye health because it reduces the risk of developing macular degeneration as well as cataracts.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts are chock full of vitamin E, which research has shown has the ability to slow macular degeneration. One single handful of nuts will provide you with about half of your daily dose of vitamin E.
By now you might have heard that fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and that these fatty acids play a key role in fighting inflammation, protecting joint health and aiding in weight loss. But did you know that omega-3 fatty acids may also protect against dry eyes, cataracts and macular degeneration? If you don’t like to eat these fish, consider taking a quality fish oil supplement. If you are a vegetarian, you may also take a supplement that contains black currant seed oil or flaxseed oil instead.
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5 Things You Can Do Every Day to Maintain Perfect Eyesight
The choices we make daily affect every aspect of our health, including our vision. Here are 5 things you can do daily to maintain your eyesight:
If you don’t currently smoke – great – don’t start, and if you currently are a smoker, quit. Smoking negatively impacts our vascular system which makes us more at risk of developing nerve damage, cataracts and macular degeneration.
And let’s be clear, not just any cheap pair of sunglasses from the drug store will do the job. You need to purchase and wear sunglasses that are made to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Large amounts of UV exposure put our eyes at risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts. Wraparound sunglasses are the best because they protect your eyes from the side as well.
Wear Safety Goggles
Our eyes are at risk of injury on many more occasions than we’d care to think about. Sports like racquetball, ice hockey and even lacrosse can lead to eye injury. So can being exposed to harmful airborne materials either on the job or at home working on a home renovation project. If you think your eyes are going to be at risk of injury during a particular event, then wear protective goggles.
Look Away From the Computer Screen
More and more of us spend greater amounts of time looking at a computer screen. Some of us even look at a screen for eight or more hours a day, which can wreak havoc on our eyes. Staring at a computer screen for too long can not only cause eye strain and blurry vision, but also dry eyes, headaches, and troubling focusing at a distance.
If your job requires you to be at your computer all day, there are some steps you can do to protect your eyes:
- If you wear glasses or contact lenses, make sure the prescription is up-to-date and takes into account computer use.
- If you don’t wear glasses, consider buying a special pair that isn’t prescription per se, but helps protect the eyes from glare, contrast and eye strain.
- Make sure your computer is positioned correctly. Your eyes should be level with the top of the monitor so you can look slightly down at the screen.
- Consider using an anti-glare screen.
- If your eyes get dry frequently, blink more often.
- Every 20 minutes or so it’s important that you give your eyes a break by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds. On top of this, make sure to get up every 2 hours to stretch and walk around a bit to keep your blood flowing.
You’ve heard numerous reasons why it’s important to exercise for your overall health, but exercise is also important for eye health. Regular exercise decreases intraocular pressure (IOP) and your risk of macular degeneration. When IOP decreases, blood flow to the optic nerves and retina increase leading to greater eye health.
If you haven’t been giving your eyes their due respect, isn’t it time you start? Keeping them healthy will keep you happy for years to come.