The ability to see makes up a great part of how we view the world. Without sight, living can be limited. Yet few people ever see the need to care for their eyes. The eyes are often neglected until near/far-sightedness worsens or cataracts and glaucoma begins to limit vision.
Despite being nearsighted since the second grade, you can count me in as someone who neglects her eyesight. Up until recently, it had been a decade since my last eye exam and I was wearing the same frames from 1997. Yeah, you read that right, 97. My mom got me some great Emporio Armani frames that set her back $500 plus. She told me in the store to never take them off and by 2018 aside from changing the lenses, I hadn’t. I think it’s safe to say she got more than her money’s worth.
Thankfully, to my eyeballs credit, my prescription hasn’t changed much over the years hence my laziness to get a checkup. But that was the problem they had changed even if it was a little bit. My eyes had changed enough that I was straining to see. I forgot my 37-year-old eyes didn’t work the way they used to at 27.
Not to mention, today’s technology doesn’t help matters as it creates conditions that degrade our eyesight. Along with millions of other people, I’m constantly looking at some sort of blue screen which steadily increases eye strain or even vision loss. Which means everyone needs to be diligent about their eye health.
Maintaining healthy eyes naturally should be an important part of everyone’s life. Here are ways to keep your eyes healthy and sharp.
An Eye-Healthy Diet
Eye health starts with foods that improve eyesight. A diet of fresh fruit and vegetables. Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, collard greens, and kale come loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help the eyes filter out harmful radiation. Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene that has protective effects on the eyes. Lycopene, bioflavonoids, proanthocyanidins, quercetin, and polyphenols are found in many brightly colored fruits and vegetables, including green tea.
Antioxidants are effective in protecting the eyes from free-radical damage. Considering that most foods lack enough essential vitamins and minerals, supplementation with vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, and zinc can promote eye health. Bilberry, ginkgo Biloba and taurine help to improve night vision, enhance circulation to the eyes and support collagen production. Check out WebMD for a listing of foods that are good for your eyes.
Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Your Diet
Speaking of diets, in ancient cultures ate a diet that consisted of equal quantities of omega-3 and omega-6. Today’s diet leans heavily toward omega-6 but omega-3 contains DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and this particular fatty acid is praised for its many health benefits one of which includes eye health. While both are important, omega-3 is found in foods that are the least consumed. Fish such as sardines, salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, and tuna are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed also provides essential omega-3 oils but is versatile as it can be incorporated in almost any dish.
Do Eye Exercises (Yes, it’s a thing)
Eye muscles are constantly at work, but they experience a great deal of strain and fatigue when used through repetitive movements. These movements stem from reading, watching television, driving long distances, and working with computer screens. Eye exercises can help improve the elasticity of the eye muscles. Healthline lists a number of eye exercises to help you maintain your vision.
Wearing sunglasses protects your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, in addition to hiding your dark circled or bloodshot eyes. Now before you grab any old pair of shades make sure your sunnies can block 99% to 100% of UV rays. Also, you’ll want to look into frames with thick sides to keep the sun from hurting your eyes from the side.
Keeping Blood Sugar in Balance
High levels of glucose and insulin levels in the bloodstream are not only a recipe for diabetes, but they adversely affect eye health, particularly the small vessels that supply the eyes with the oxygen and nutrients the cells need to function properly. Keeping your blood sugar stable means eating fiber foods and less refined, high-calorie foods that raise blood sugar levels. While drugs help control blood sugar, they do not prevent the complications of blindness and neuropathy that affect so many diabetics Much of the problem is due to the lack of nutrients such as chromium, Gymnema Sylvestre, vanadyl sulfate and banaba leaf that can protect the eyes. Many diabetics do not have adequate levels of many vitamins and minerals that help enhance eye health.
Take Device Breaks
As I mentioned before, we spend a lot of time looking at computer monitors and phone screens for work and entertainment but what we have to remember is over time is our tv and phones contains blue light and too much exposure can affect our eyes. You can tell you’ve been looking at the screen too long when you’re eyes begin to notice you’re straining to see and your eyes begin to burn. Now because blue light travels all the way to the retina too much exposure can damage light-sensitive cells in the eye. This is why it’s crucial we take device breaks to give our eyes a rest, especially before bedtime.
And the most important tip…
Get Regular Eye Checkups
I cannot stress enough how important it is to get your eyes checked annually, or when you find yourself straining to see. You will save yourself a lot of headaches and pain. And if you’re prescribed glasses for the love of humanity wear them. Yeah, you’re doing all of these things to keep your eyes healthy but if you aren’t wearing your glasses/contacts then you really aren’t doing shit as your eyes will get worse.
*Extra Tip: Make sure to get glasses or contacts with a blue light filter and UV ray protection.
Keeping healthy eyes and maintaining sharp eyesight is not as difficult as it may seem. Good eating habits, reducing eye strain, and keeping blood sugar in control will ensure that eyesight remains sharp without the macular deterioration that so many experience today.