It is important to take care of your eyes to prevent problems just like you would the rest of your body. Follow these tips to give yourself the healthiest and happiest eyes around so that you can continue seeing like a star rather than seeing stars.
What to Eat for Eye Health
Diet is the #1 way to keep healthy, whether it is your eyes, your heart or staying fit. Important for eye health specifically are things like lutein, zinc, omega3 fats and vitamins like C and E. Here are some good examples of how to get these nutrients:
- Lutein – Cooked spinach and other leafy greens, yellow, red and orange fruits and vegetables like carrots and peppers. This is also a great nutrient to look for in a supplement like a daily vitamin as many people do not get enough.
- Zinc – Spinach is again a top contender, but other good sources are pumpkin and squash seeds, cashews and most meats
- Omega-3 Fats – Fish are the top source for omega-3 fats, especially salmon, anchovies, tuna and trout. Nuts are also a good source, try walnuts.
- Vitamin C – Citrus fruits and vegetables contain a whole lot of Vitamin C. Try eating oranges or grapefruit, or adding lemon juice to your water. Bell peppers are also a good source, along with Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
- Vitamin E – Many nuts and oils contain vitamin E including peanuts, almonds, pine nuts and safflower oil. For a lower fat option, try tomatoes and wheat germ instead.
Protect Your Eyes
This tip does double duty. First of all it is important to protect your eyes from physical injury. Wear safety glasses anywhere there is a danger of getting something in your eyes, whether playing sports or working in a shop. Taking a hit to the eye can lead to lots of complications but so can getting small debris in there, like sawdust or sand. If you do take a hit to the eye make sure you go to a doctor to get your eye examined to make sure there is no internal damage which might need to be repaired to prevent further damage. If something small gets in your eye, remember not to rub it around too much as this can damage your eye even more. The best way to get little pieces of debris out of your eye is the natural way, your body will start producing extra tears to try and get it out, you can help by using eye drops as well and waiting patiently for them to do the job.
The second way you need to protect your eye is from the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are constantly bombarding us during the day. It is well known that we must protect our skin from these rays to avoid sun burns and the possible formation of skin cancer but it is also important to protect our eyes from the harmful effects of these rays. UV exposure increases the chance of developing cataracts and macular degeneration as well as causing damage to the retina damaging your eyes and your ability to see properly.
To protect your eyes, never look directly at the sun, which can cause the appearance of eye floaters or seeing black spots to worsen, and wear sunglasses which block at least 99% of UV-A and UV-B radiation. Sunglasses also protect your eyes from debris and are especially helpful for situations such as the beach where getting sand in your eyes could be an issue. Also remember to protect your eyes in the winter as well, as sunlight reflecting off of snow can cause all the same issues as direct sunlight. If you wear contact lenses you can get UV protection built right in as well.
Stop Rubbing Your Eyes
Lightly rubbing your eyes once in a while will not cause a problem, in fact, it may even be helpful; by stimulating tear production relieving stress and removing debris from the corner of your eye. The issue comes from frequent, high pressure eye rubbing or rubbing debris around into your eyes.
If you rub your eyes vigorously with your knuckles you cause the eye pressure to spike which can damage and weaken parts within the eye. You may suffer from weakened or even detached retinas, scratched or torn cornea. Rubbing your eyes if you have gotten something in your eye like dirt, dust or sand is not recommended. Instead, let your tears do their job and flush your eyes to remove the object, if needed you can help by using eye drops or flushing your eyes with water.
One common time we rub our eyes is when we are sick or allergic and have red, itchy eyes. This is also a bad time to rub your eyes as it will likely result in them becoming even itchier, or transferring allergens from your eye lashes onto the eye. Do your best to avoid rubbing your eyes in this situation and instead try treating the issue with anti allergen medication, a clean, damp towel over your eyes to reduce the symptoms or avoiding areas with irritants in the air.
Kick the Butts to Keep the Vision
Smoking causes all sorts of health problems from cancer to emphysema and your eyes will not be spared from harm. Smoking and being around smoke irritates eyes right away and promotes dry eyes which are very uncomfortable and may encourage eye rubbing.
Smoking also significantly raises your chances to develop macular degeneration, which results in blind spots within your eyes, cataracts and uveitis, which lead to blindness and a myriad of other problems. If you have eye issues now, smoking will only make them worse and if you are hoping to avoid problems in the future, putting an end to smoking is one of the top ways to prevent those problems from coming around.
Stop the Eye Strain
In our world which is increasingly dependent on computer screens, eye strain is a growing problem. Prolonged eye strain can cause fatigue, blurred vision, headaches and direct eye pain and is very easy to miss when concentrating on reading or working on a computer.
The recommended way to deal with eye strain is to take a break periodically when working on a computer, reading or doing work which requires high concentration. Every 20 minutes, you should focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps relax the ciliary muscles in the eye which tighten during these activities. It is also important to blink often and spend some time with your eyes closed during this exercise. Blinking slows down during activities which require ocular focus which results in the eyes becoming dry and other issues. Remembering to take periodic breaks and blink more or use eye drops if you experience dry eyes can help significantly.
Keeping Your Eyes Healthy
Following these tips will help your eyes stay healthy and disease free for your whole life. Blindness, decreased vision and other degenerative eye related issues become more common as you age, but can affect anyone at any time. Keeping your eyes in their best shape is a great way to avoid problems and keep you happy and healthy.