We all understand the importance of healthy eyes; unfortunately, many don’t consider eye health until there’s a problem. Here we are, at the beginning of 2022 though, a time when many of us make resolutions to improve our health and/or well-being. So, this year, let’s resolve to NOT take our vision for granted.
The fact that you’re here and taking the time to learn some good habits for protecting your eyes is a great sign. There are plenty of small changes you can make that will have a significant impact. In fact, some of the most common conditions, such as Macular Degeneration, can be drastically reduced just by making some healthy changes such as eating more leafy greens and eliminating smoking. That’s why this article focuses on good habits to protect your vision.
A Good Place to Start is with Your Diet
Treating yourself to a healthy diet with a variety of nutrients is one of the best things you can do for your eyes. Your diet affects your vision in two powerful ways; a balanced diet will reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes, the leading cause of blindness in adults. You’ll also be consuming specific nutrients that are proven to keep your eyes strong.
- OMEGA 3’s: aid in the drainage of intraocular fluid. This is key to preventing both macular degeneration and cataracts. Omegas also reduce your risk of glaucoma. Chia seeds, nuts, and salmon are high in Omega Fatty Acids.
- VITAMIN C: can also lower your risk of developing cataracts. C vitamins are also full of antioxidants that protect your eyes from free radicals. Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, along with peppers and strawberries.
- VITAMIN E: offers a couple of benefits as well. Macular degeneration and cataracts are both reduced with healthy levels of Vitamin E. You’ll be able to find it in almonds, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
- ZINC: can have a major impact on maintaining the retina. Cell membranes and the protein structure of your eye are also protected by zinc. Additionally, zinc can help your body produce melanin, a pigment that protects the eyes from UV light. Beans, oysters, nuts, red meat, and seeds are great sources of zinc.
A Good Pair of Shades
As we just mentioned, zinc can protect your eyes from the sun and its UV rays; however, sunglasses can have an even bigger impact. Look for sunglasses that block 100% of the UVA and UVB rays. It’s also recommended that you choose wraparound lenses that will block the light from the side.
Wearing your sunglasses in the winter is just as important. It can be easy to forget your shades this time of year. Just remember, the glare reflecting off the snow can be extra distracting and damaging. Reducing your exposure to UV light will also reduce your risk of Cataracts and Macular Degeneration.
Limit Screen Time
Many of us in the Windsor area have increased our screen time significantly during COVID-19. Usually, our kids would learn in a classroom but instead were taught online for much of the school year. Our social and professional lives moved online as well, including meetings, fitness classes, doctor appointments, and more. On top of all that, many people were out of work, which meant binge-watching more tv than usual, and since we couldn’t visit the library, our books were often enjoyed on a tablet or e-reader.
Unfortunately, too much screen time (whether it’s your phone, computer, or television) causes eye strain and blurry vision. Blue light exposure can also impact our health in other ways, such as increasing cortisol levels while decreasing our ability to produce melatonin.
Signs of too much screen time include dry eyes and difficulties focusing on items far away. It’s also likely you’ll experience headaches, back, neck and shoulder pain. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help protect your vision during screen time.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Blink often. This can help keep your eyes lubricated.
- If dry eyes persist, use artificial tears. However, you don’t want to use eye drops that eliminate red eyes. Too much use of those drops can have a negative impact on your eye health. Instead, use a solution that consists of saline.
- Wear Blue Light Blockers. These are glasses that are slightly tinted to eliminate eye strain and help preserve healthy vision.
Maintain Consistent Eye Exams
As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, many people don’t worry about their eye health until there is a problem. Be proactive; ensure you get your eyes checked at least every two years. Adults over 65 should consider annual appointments. If, in the meantime, you experience strain, pain, blurriness or have any other concerns, don’t put off your visit with the optometrist.
Finally, you want to be sure you keep your eyeglass prescription up-to-date. This will help prevent additional strain, whether you’re watching tv, reading a book, or driving.