Take Care of Your Eyes Now For Good Vision In Later Life
Is the If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your eye health. But this exactly the time you should be acting to preserve your vision. Most vision problems are preventable with simple good-health habits.
Vision loss is not an inevitable part of getting older. Many studies have shown that exercise and a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables can protect against blinding eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. But you can’t wait until you’re having problems with your vision to start taking care of your health.
The choices you make while you’re healthy can also help prevent certain types of eye cancer, as well as work- and sports-related eye injuries. And regular eye exams can catch problems before it’s too late. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends adults under age 40 have a comprehensive medical eye exam every five to 10 years.
Make these seven habits part of your daily life to set yourself up for a lifetime of seeing well:
- Wear sunglasses (even when it’s cloudy). Long-term exposure to the sun without proper protection can increase the risk of eye disease, including cataract, macular degeneration, growths on the eye, and a rare form of eye cancer. Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity can protect you from serious eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
- Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk for eye diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking also raises the risk for cardiovascular diseases which can indirectly influence your eye health. Tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, also makes dry eye worse.
- Protect your eyes at work and at play. Every year, thousands of people in the United States get a serious work-related eye injury or sports-related eye injury. Wearing protective eyewear (safety glasses or goggles) can prevent most of these injuries. To make sure you have the right kind of protective eyewear and you’re using it correctly, talk with your eyecare professional.
- Be aware of eye fatigue. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or staring at your phone, you may forget to blink — and that can tire out your eyes. Try using the 20–20–20 rule throughout the day: every 20 minutes, look away from the screens and focus about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. Eye fatigue won’t damage your vision, but if it persists, it can be a sign something else is wrong. You may have dry eye, presbyopia, or spectacles with lenses that are not properly centered.
- Take proper care of contact lenses. Sleeping, showering and swimming in contact lenses increases your risk for a potentially blinding eye infection. Learn how to properly care for contact lenses.
- Know your family history. Certain eye diseases can be inherited. If you have a close relative with macular degeneration, you have a 50% chance of developing this condition. A family history of glaucoma increases your glaucoma risk by four to nine times. Talk to family members about their eye conditions. Knowing what vision challenges your family has had can help you and your ophthalmologist evaluate your risk.
Eye Health = Brain Health
Healthy brain function needs healthy eyesight. The brain is our most vital organ, allowing us to live complex lives. Considering that your optic nerve connects your eyes and your brain, a healthy co-dependent relationship is necessary. By keeping your eyes healthy, you keep your brain healthy – improving your overall quality of life!
Good vision contributes to improved athletic ability, better driving skills, improved learning and comprehension and better quality of life.
What to do
Specific vision problems can benefit from specific solutions, according to the AOA:
- Sensitivity to bright light. Choose sunglasses that block 75% to 90% of visible light. In addition, sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of ultraviolet A and B radiation help protect against cataracts. Choose sunglasses that also block the blue wavelengths. Don’t wear dark glasses at night or indoors. Doing so can make eyes more light sensitive over time.
- Itchy, burning or red eyes. These symptoms can result from dry eye conditions common after age 50, or from high mucous production in allergy-prone contact lens wearers. Using artificial tears may help with dry eye. Some allergy sufferers can get some help from switching to disposable or daily wear lenses. Contact lens wearers and adults older than 50 with these symptoms should consult an eye care professional for appropriate treatment.
- Trouble with glare. If nighttime headlight glare is an ongoing problem or if you work in visually demanding situations, ask your eye care professional about antireflection-coated lenses. These can help reduce glare and reflections both day and night. Remember, for older adults, an increased sense of glare may be a symptom of beginning cataracts and a reason to get an eye exam.
- Reduced vision in aging eyes. In addition to a new eyeglass lens prescription, a helpful measure for older eyes is to place more lamps in the home and install task lighting. Choose high-output fluorescent bulbs to increase light output while decreasing energy usage. Eliminate glare with indirect lighting.
- Problems with new glasses. If, after a few days of wearing new lenses, you continue to have blurred vision, double vision, or other problems, see your eye care professional. The problem may be solved by an adjustment to either the frame or the prescription.
- Annoying spots in front of your eyes. Generally, seeing spots or floaters is a common, harmless experience of aging. Seeing flashes, or, in some cases “floaters,” however, may signal something more serious like diabetic retinopathy, carotid artery disease, or early-stage retinal detachment. Call your healthcare professional if you have symptoms.
Foods That Are Good for Your Eyes
Dark, Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, and collard greens, for example, are rich in both vitamins C and E. They also have the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These plant-based forms of vitamin A lower your risk of long-term eye diseases, including AMD and cataracts. Most people who eat Western diets don’t get enough of them.
Raw Red Peppers
Bell peppers give you the most vitamin C per calorie. That’s good for the blood vessels in your eyes, and science suggests it could lower your risk of getting cataracts. It’s found in many vegetables and fruits, including bok choy, cauliflower, papayas, and strawberries. Heat will break down vitamin C, so go raw when you can. Brightly colored peppers also pack eye-friendly vitamins A and E.
Your retinas need two types of omega-3 fatty acids to work right: DHA and EPA. You can find both in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and trout, as well as other seafood. Omega-3s also seem to protect your eyes from AMD and glaucoma. Low levels of these fatty acids have been linked to dry eyes.
Orange-colored fruits and vegetables — like sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, mangos, and apricots — are high in beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that helps with night vision, your eyes’ ability to adjust to darkness. One sweet potato also has more than half the vitamin C you need in a day and a little vitamin E.
Lean Meat and Poultry
Zinc brings vitamin A from your liver to your retina, where it’s used to make the protective pigment melanin. Oysters have more zinc per serving than any other food, but you don’t have to be a shellfish lover to get enough: Beef, pork, and chicken (both dark and breast meat) are all good sources.
It’s a great package deal: The zinc in an egg will help your body use the lutein and zeaxanthin from its yolk. The yellow-orange color of these compounds blocks harmful blue light from damaging your retina. They help boost the amount of protective pigment in the macula, the part of your eye that controls central vision.
THE WORST FOODS FOR YOUR EYE HEALTH
You know the saying, “You are what you eat”? The food you eat plays a huge part in your health.
Our eyes are vascular, meaning that it is important to have a heart-healthy diet to keep the blood vessels that service our eyes healthy. Tiny capillaries provide your retina with nutrients and oxygen; because these vessels are so small, fatty deposits can easily cause blocked veins.
list of the foods that are harmful to the health of your eyes.
CONDIMENTS, TOPPINGS, AND DRESSINGS
The toppings that you likely store in your refrigerator door like mayonnaise, salad dressing, or jelly, are all high in fat.
Rather than using these options for flavor on your next sandwich, burger, or salad, try using natural flavors like green vegetables or toppings that are packed with vitamin C, like a squeeze of fresh lemon. Get great flavor with natural foods without sacrificing your nutritional benefits!
WHITE OR PLAIN COLORED FOODS
Think about the white foods that you eat: pasta, white bread, rice, and flour tortillas. These foods offer almost no nutritional benefit, just simple carbohydrates that give a rush of energy that are followed by a crash.
If you are eating these foods, be sure to add greens and foods that rich with omega-3 to the meal to provide yourself with nutritional benefits. Or, swap them for healthier alternatives that use whole grains.
Red meats and sausages are often convenient to purchase, especially when you are buying from the deli. Lunch meats can seem healthy but are mostly full of chemical preservatives, salt, fat, and cholesterol.
Instead of consuming fatty meats, try adding in lean meats like fresh turkey, which is full of zinc and protein. Salmon is good alternative as well, as it is an omega-3 rich food.
Margarine is often marketed as a healthy alternative to butter, but is full of trans fats that can adversely affect your cholesterol.
Instead, try using coconut, avocado, or olive oil as an alternative to both margarine and butter to avoid trans fats.
Junk foods are delicious but can cause serious issues down the line for your health if you consume too many. Rather than eating French fries, cookies, or potato chips, which are all full of unsaturated fats, swap them out for healthy saturated fats.
Lean meats, fish, fresh fruits and veggies, and low-fat or non-dairy products are the best way to receive healthy fats.