Good vision is a gift of immeasurable worth, as it plays a vital role in everything we do. Aging and certain diseases as well as an unhealthful lifestyle and exposure to certain environmental agents can all adversely affect the health of the eyes. Here are some ways to help protect yourself from vision loss.
1. Avoid Eyestrain
Reading a book or a computer screen for long unbroken periods can result in eyestrain. To avoid this malady, The College of Optometrists recommends the 20-20-20 rule, which involves taking a break every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Every two hours, take a 15-minute rest from reading. (See the first infographic below for even more quick-tips for avoiding eye strain.)
2. Keep Screens at a Distance
Keep an arm’s length away (20-26 inches) from a desktop computer and 16 inches away from a handheld device, say experts. If you are unable to read the screen from this distance, increase the font size. Here is a guide for how you can increase font size on your computer or device. (The second infographic below offers more details.)
3. Eat Eye-Protective Foods
Eating foods that contain the nutrients your eyes need will aid in warding off cataracts and macular degeneration. Include plenty of fresh fruit in your diet, especially citrus fruits and berries that contain dark red, blue or black pigments. Vegetables, particularly carrots and dark leafy greens, such as kale, spinach and collards, are very beneficial.
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4. Drink Green Tea
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that catechins, the antioxidants in green tea are absorbed into the retina, lens and other eye tissues. This advantage may protect against glaucoma and other eye disorders.
5. Get Regular Exercise
Believe it or not, engaging in regular exercise can protect vision in different ways. Research in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests exercise supports vision because it elevates levels of a growth factor that improves the health of neurons in the retina, thereby reducing the risk of macular degeneration. Workouts also help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Both of which increase the likelihood of chronic eye disease.
6. Maintain a Healthy Weight
It’s no secret that being overweight raises the risk of diabetes. But it’s less known that this condition often leads to other disorders, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. Eating a diet that is rich in fresh produce, but limits sugary and processed foods, will help you keep off excess pounds.
7. Quit Smoking
The free radicals generated from smoking are incredibly harmful to the eyes. Plus, the habit is known to increase the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts and nerve damage. All of which can lead to blindness.
8. Get Regular Comprehensive Eye Exams
Many common eye diseases have no warning signs, so a dilated eye exam is the only way to detect them in the early stages. Moreover, farsightedness and nearsightedness can be reduced with corrective glasses or contact lenses. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), adults between the ages of 18-60 should schedule a comprehensive eye exam every two years. Adults over the age of 61 are recommended to schedule one annually.
9. Wear Protective Glasses
Unless you’re sleeping, your eyes can be exposed to anything from vision damaging UV rays to dust to chemicals. When choosing sunglasses, the AOA recommends a pair that not only blocks 100 percent of UV rays, but also absorbs most HEV rays.
It is also recommended to wear protective eyewear when playing sports that can cause eye injuries, working with airborne or hazardous products or even just out walking on a windy day. Choose eye guards, safety goggles and safety shields made of polycarbonate, a strong plastic material. And if swimming in your exercise of choice, take extra care to guard your eyes against the chemical sting. Too much exposure to chlorine can damage the cornea.
10. Take Precautions with Eye Makeup
Ladies, bacteria can accumulate in mascara. Be sure to replace your tube every three months. Additionally, it’s important to avoid applying eyeliner inside the lash line. It can block the oil glands that lubricate the eye, notes Ruth D. Williams, M.D., a former president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
11. Keep Contact Lenses Clean
Contact lenses can cause infections, so wash your hands before putting them in or taking them out. Follow the proper procedure to disinfect them. For a step-by-step guide to proper contact lens care, as well as information about the various types of contact solution, visit the AOA’s Caring for Contact Lenses page. (It’s a great refresher even for those who have been wearing contacts for years.)
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.