How to Maintain Healthy Eyes
Of all the five senses we possess - touch, taste, sight, sound and smell - perhaps the one we would least like to lose is our sight. Even diminished sight can reduce our quality of life, affecting our ability to drive, play sports or recognize friends from a distance. We care for our teeth, our skin and our hearts on a daily basis. How much more care and attention we should give to our eyes!
As with the rest of our bodies, our eyesight tends to deteriorate with age. Some damage can easily be prevented with a little knowledge and forethought. One of the most harmful enemies to our eyes is the sun. Did you know that ultraviolet rays can cause eye diseases and increase nearsightedness? UV rays are also a major cause of cancer around the eyes, yet it is so easy to lower the risk. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses and get into the habit of always wearing them when outdoors. It is a good idea to keep a spare pair in the car. Everyone has an old pair of sunglasses gathering dust somewhere, and they don't need to be the latest fashion for keeping in the car! UV rays are less when it is overcast - but they are still around, doing damage. Get in the habit of wearing sunglasses outdoors whatever the weather, and before long you will feel naked without them!
Sunglasses are very important when skiing, as the whiter-than-white landscape reflects the harmful rays right into your eyes. You should also wear sunglasses in the swimming pool when possible, as rays are reflected from the water's surface too.
Choose your sunglasses for more than just a designer name or vanity. Make sure they have 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound frames offer the best protection and oversize sunglasses cover more soft tissue around the eyes.
We all know that antioxidants are good for preventative healthcare, but a new study has found that older people who live in a bright sunny climate and have low levels of antioxidants are more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration. This is another good reason to enjoy those 5-a-day fruit and veggie portions. Citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils and nuts are all a good source of antioxidants. Traditionally we were taught that carrots are good for your eyesight, supposedly helping you see in the dark. The truth is that green and yellow-hued foods are good for our eyes too. Green and yellow fruits and vegetables are high in lutein, which you may have heard of, and zeaxanthin which is less well-known. These two nutrients both protect the retina, so start looking for new recipes which include egg yolks, avocados, pistachios, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, corn, spinach, kale and collard greens. The last three items on that list may be the least popular, but a cup-size serving of those green leaves can have 20 to 30 times more lutein and zeaxanthin than a cup of green lettuce.
Omega-3, found in oily fish such as salmon and tuna, may help with good eyecare too. Omega-3 helps prevent dry eyes which may be caused by the menopause, dust, medications and wearing contact lenses.
The advent of the home computer means many people spend hours every day staring at that illuminated screen. Minimize eyestrain and damage by placing the monitor as far away as possible from your eyes, without having to squint. Look away regularly, to give your eyes a break and to change focus. An antiglare screen is a great help too.
Eyecare and Exercise
Exercise crops up whenever we talk about any health topic, and it is must be a part of your new eyecare regimen too. Exercising reduces the risk of diabetes, which is the main cause of vision impairment and possible blindness. Aim for half an hour of exercise three times a week, at a level that makes you a little breathless. You will reap health benefits all round if you can maintain a weekly fitness regimen.
Regular Eye Checks
These are the 5 important steps to maintaining the best eye care possible.
Whether you currently wear glasses or not, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says everyone over 40 should have regular eye-disease screening. Detecting problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma early may pay dividends. A full check should include testing eye-muscle movements and a retinoscopy to check for astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness.
- Wear sunglasses
- Eat plenty of vegetables
- Minimize computer glare
- Exercise regularly
- Have annual eye checks.
Can you check off all the bullet points?
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