It is no wonder in our electronic age that people are suffering from eye fatigue, eye strain and the progression of nearsightedness more than any other time in history. Focusing for long periods of time on your computer and television screens for work or to play video games creates highly concentrated eye strain which takes a toll on our vision. Eyes can also be damaged by bright sun, or diseases such as diabetic neuropathy, glaucoma or cataracts. And as we get older, we begin to experience age-related macular degeneration.
The good news is that you can do some preventative things to care for your eyes. There have been studies done that show promise for certain nutrients that will help preserve your sight as follows:
- Anthocyanins, found in black currant, elderberries, blueberries and grapes can protect your eye cells from damage, reduce inflammation, and stop oxidative stress.
- Grape seed extracts contain powerful bioflavonoid components called Oligomeric Proanthocyanins (OPCs) which have been shown to provide protection to human lens epithelial cells. Bioflavonoids are found mostly in fruits, vegetables and certain tree barks.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two primary carotenoids which are present in the eyes. These carotenoids protect the retina and the macula (a spot near the center of the retina that allows us to see fine detail). It is believed that lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula block blue light from reaching the underlying structures in the retina, thereby reducing the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration. Lutein and Zeaxanthin can be found in many foods such as green leafy vegetables (spinach especially), broccoli, corn, beans, pumpkin, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes and cantaloupe.
- Vitamin A and antioxidants to fight off free radicals as a way to safeguard your sight. The damage caused by free radicals is known to force eye muscle contractions and is a key contributor to eye fatigue. Foods rich in antioxidants specifically recommended for eye health are carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, eggs, green leafy vegetables, salmon, sardines, flax seeds, soybeans and walnuts.
- Vitamin E to help shield against macular degeneration
- Vitamin C to fight damaging free radicals that lead to cloudy vision. Top sources of Vitamin C includeoranges, orange juice, red and green bell peppers, grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli and kale.
- Zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in eye health. Zinc may decrease your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Other things that are highly recommended for the health of your eyes are:
- Regular visits to an eye care practitioner
- Removing contacts at the end of the day
- Removing your eye makeup at the end of the day
- Using allergen-reducing eye drops sparingly
- Wearing UV protective sunglasses
- Wearing goggles when appropriate
- Getting plenty of sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for eye health allowing your eyes to fully rest, repair and recover. Insufficient sleep may weaken your vision.
- Exercising regularly: Several studies over the last ten years have found connections between regular exercise and reducing the risk for common eye ailments including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
- Giving your eyes a break: Rest your eyes 10 minutes for every 50 minutes spent reading or in front of the computer. If your eyes feel overly tired, lie down and place a cool cloth over your eyelids.
- Wearing lenses that are not stronger than you need
- Doing eye exercises to maintain optimal vision and reduce eye floaters:
-Wash your hands.
-Warm your eyes. Rub your palms together to create heat, and then place them against your eyes for five seconds. Repeat this three times.
-Roll your eyes. Start by looking up and then slowly circle 10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise.
-Hold a pen at arm’s length, focus your eyes on it, and slowly bring the pen closer until it’s about 6 inches away from your nose. Then slowly move it back, keeping your eyes focused on the pen, 10 times in all.
-Massage your temples. Using your thumb knuckles, massage your temples in small circles, 20 times in one direction and 20 in the other. Repeat the same actions above the mid-point of the eyebrows at the forehead, then below the eyes on both sides of the bridge of the nose.
-Put your head back, close your eyes, and relax for three minutes
I hope that this journey through eye health will help you as much as it did me to find ways to help you see clearly into your future eye health.
Cynthia Jones, CCWS Vitality Wellness Strategy Manager, Certified Spin instructor who can be found most of the time on the Lake County Bike Trails or in a spin studio. An artist who believes that there is a beauty to getting older but feeling young.