We all know the importance of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Some days it feels like we’re being overloaded with information about how to stay healthy. Whether it’s exercising our heart and lungs, toning up our muscles, reducing sugar intake, eating low fat foods, reducing carbs and increasing our water intake – the list is endless!
And yet in comparison, there is very little information about keeping your eyes healthy. So we thought it was a good idea to make eye health the subject of our latest blog.
Healthy eyes are happy eyes
First and foremost, you should always have regular eye examinations. Not only do these comprehensive examinations check your vision, but they also look at the overall health of the eye, including the back of the eye. Regular eye tests can detect many underlying conditions, even if you aren’t presenting any symptoms.
Our eyes are precious. They are about the only part of us that can’t be replaced. Which is why it’s vital to look after them. And one key factor in eye health, just like physical and mental health, is diet. What you eat can have a significant effect on the health of your eyes, not just your waistline. Remember, healthy eyes are happy eyes.
Eat a well balanced diet
Nutritional research shows that eating a portion of oily fish each week can reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by up to 40%. AMD is currently the leading cause of sight loss in the UK. So the benefits of incorporating oily fish into your diet – like salmon, tuna and sardines – should not be overlooked.
Eating more dark green leafy vegetables, as well as eggs, nuts and citrus fruits can also help ward off these conditions and cataracts. You can load up your plate or take them in capsule form. If you’re not getting enough of these vitamins and minerals in your diet, specific eye health supplements like lutein, omega-3 and vitamins A, C and E can help if taken on a long term basis.
Eating a well-balanced healthy diet will also help with maintaining a healthy weight, which in turn will reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes – a big cause of blindness in adults.
Smoking can also damage your eyes, with research showing that smokers are at increased risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration and damage to the optic nerve.
We’re always being advised about protecting our skin against the effects from the sun to prevent against burning. And it’s the same for our eyes too. So we should always protect them from the sun and the ultra violet light that the sun emits. Too much UV exposure increases the chance of cataracts and macular degeneration. Always wear sunglasses with a UV block, even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection. This will give a second layer of protection covering the whole eye. When it comes to the harmful effects of the sun, there’s no such thing as too much protection.
If you are carrying out a hazardous task, consider investing in a pair of safety spectacles or shields to go over the top of your regular spectacles. This will protect against any airborne objects injuring your eyes. And it’s the same if you participate in any sports, especially ball sports like squash, tennis or hockey, where the ball or contact with another player could result in a nasty eye injury.
Computer eye strain
We are spending more and more time looking at digital screens, which can lead to eye strain and sore eyes. Research shows that when people are concentrating on near vision tasks – such as looking at computer screens – we blink less and as a result our eyes become drier. The reason we blink is to remove any small dust and particles from the eyeball and to spread lubricating fluids across the eye to stop them from drying out. Less blinking means less lubrication. Try the 20/20/20 trick. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away and blink 20 times. It might sound strange but it does help.
Top tips for eye health
So to summarise, follow these top tips for better eye health:
- Have regular examinations. An eye test will check your vision and detect underlying conditions.
- Be aware of your family health history
- Follow a healthy balanced diet
- Stop smoking
- Wear sunglasses to protect against UV light
- Practice the 20/20/20 rule
- Wear protective eyewear
If you’ve noticed some significant changes in your vision or are worried about the health of your eyes, contact your optician for a comprehensive eye examination. It’s recommended that you have an eye test every two years, even if your eyes appear normal and healthy. To make an appointment for a check up, please give our Market Harborough practice a call on 01858 433577.