Your eyes do a lot of work each and every day. Thus, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect them so they can serve you well into the future. Caring for them goes well outside of the doctor’s office. Yourhealth and lifestyle choices make an impact on your overall body, your eyes included. Taking measures now can decrease your risk of developing common age-related eye conditions such as: cataracts (the clouding of the lens in your eyes), macular degeneration (damage to the area of the retina that perceives light) and glaucoma (damage to the eye’s optic nerve).
There are simple and natural things you can implement into your day-to-day lifestyle that your eyes will be grateful for. Making these simple lifestyle tips can go a long way towards keeping your vision healthy. Here are 5ways to protect and maintain the health of your eyes.
UV exposure from time spent under the sun can be extremely harmful to our vision. Too much UV exposure can result in short term conditions, such as photoketarsis as well as long-term damage such cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Always remember to wear sunglasses outside, even if it is cold or cloudy out.
The American Optometric Association recommends shades that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays, screen out 75-90% of visible light and have gray lenses for proper color recognition.
Exercise is beneficial to maintaining a healthy BMI and fights against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But in terms ofyour vision, aerobic exercise helps lower pressure in the eye, which helps to keep the retinal cells protected. Physical activity can also increase the blood flow to the optic nerve and retina. These effects can help strengthen your eyesight and are especially beneficial to people at risk of glaucoma.
Just a short 20-minute walk in the park four times a week can increase your pulse by 25%, which is enough to lower intraocular pressure.
Eat the right eye healthy foods
Certain nutrients are naturally supportive of eye health. Focus on increasing omega-3 and DHA rich foods like fatty fish, as well as lutein rich foods like leafy greens along with foods high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and zinc. Studies show that consuming these nutrients may help avert age-related vision issues such as cataracts and AMD.
The eye is also fed by tiny blood vessels, which can be damaged from constricted arteries. Saturated fat contains large amounts of fat deposits that can pinch these small blood vessels feeding your eyes. Therefore, it is important to limit your saturated fat intake by limiting meat consumption that is high in cholesterol.
Cigarette smoke contains approximately 4,000 toxic chemicals and releases damaging oxidants in our bodies that can destroy cells and tissues found in our eyes. It has been proven that smoking increases a person’s risk for developing cataracts and AMD.A recent study done by JAMA Ophthalmology found that the chances of developing cataracts increased by 42% for people who smoked more than 16 cigarettes per day. Even more staggering—the research showed that even people who had quit smoking for over 20 yearsstill had a 21% greater risk of developing cataracts compared to those who had never smoked a day in their life.
A smoker is also twice as likely to develop AMD compared to a non-smoker. By quitting smoking, you can lower your risk for both AMD and cataracts as well as increase your overall health and well-being.
Eye Relaxation and Exercises
Some doctors believe that the muscles surrounding your eyes can sometimes become strained and unbalanced, resulting in vision problems. This can be a problem especially in this digital age with technology exhausting our eyes. These eye exercises are not a replacement to modern eye care, but are recommended as way to relax and strengthen your eyes:
· Rub your hands together quickly for to warm them. Gently place them over your eyes for 20 seconds to warm and relax your eye muscles.
· Use your fingers to massage your temples and the back of your neck to loosen up tension in your neck and your forehead.
· Roll your eyes in circles in each direction
· Take a pencil and place the eraser side of it on the tip of your nose. Point the pencil at an object across the room. Trace the object with the point of the pencil while focusing your eyesight on the tip of the pencil and not the object.
· Hold a pencil at arms length and focus on the eraser while slowly bringing it closer to your eyes. Pause when it is about 6 inches from your eyes and then slowly bring it back to arms length. Maintain your focus on the eraser the entire time and repeat 6-10 times.
Like so many aspects of health, our modern lifestyle choices can contribute to a quicker regression in our eye health than nature may have intended. These very basic lifestyle changes can help keep your eyes healthy and strong for years to come.
Daphne writes about many health-related topics, and has for many years. Currently, she writes on behalf of the LASIK eye surgeons at Eyecare 20/20. In her spare time, she enjoys capturing moments through a lens; traveling to new and far away places and playing with her 3 lb. dog named Nolan. Follow her on Twitter @daphnelefran