The Top 5 Eye Health Tips You Can Follow Every Day
Did you know that 80% of eye problems are easily preventable and treatable? This means that there are things you can do every day to keep your eyes healthy! Here are the top 5 eye health tips that will keep your eyes happy and healthy, especially when paired with regular visits to your eye care provider.
Tip #1: Protect Yourself from both UVA and UVB Rays
The first and most important tip is to protect yourself from the ultraviolet rays spectrum emitted from the sun and other artificial sources. This spectrum includes, and is not limited to, UVA and UVB rays. UVA and UVB rays are the rays that affect your eyes the most. Though most sunglasses protect against UVA rays, not all of them protect against UVB rays. You will know that a sunglass brand covers both spectrums if they are labelled as UV 400 protection. Now you can even find contact lenses, such as Acuvue Advance Plus, that cover both UVA and UVB rays!
The reason you need to protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB rays is because each one causes different eye problems. UVA exposure can cause cataracts and macular degeneration, while UVB exposure can cause eye problems, such as pinguecula and pterygium.
Be especially careful to protect your eyes outdoors mid-day when the UV rays (both UVA and UVB) are the strongest. Also, beware of reflective surfaces such as water, snow, and glass. They can reflect the sun’s UV rays into your eyes. It’s almost as bad as looking directly into the sun. Don’t be fooled by cloud coverage, as the rays can penetrate through them. For extra protection, pair your sunglasses with a wide-brimmed hat.
Other tips for selecting the best sunglasses are:
- Wrap-around style. If your lenses do not wrap around the side of your face, UV rays can still hit your eyes.
- Full spectrum protection. As mentioned, look for the UV 400 protection label on your glasses. Cheap sunglasses may not have any UV protection at all, so keep that in mind when you are tempted to buy the latest trendy pair of sunglasses.
- Appropriate shading and coloring. Sunglass lenses come with varying colors: yellow, brown, grey, red, etc. Each one will affect how your eye perceives light and color. Find one that best suits your needs. If your eyes are extremely sensitive to light, opt for a bit of a darker shade of lens to relieve the discomfort. A darker lens does not indicate UV spectrum protection. If the sunglass brand does not have UV spectrum protection, but has a very dark lens, this could cause your pupil to dilate. This would allow more UV light into the eye if the lens has no ultraviolet protection.
Be careful in your car or other indoor environments as well, since UV rays can penetrate through windows.
Tip #2: Eat Right
Eating healthy is essential for good eye health. It is scientifically proven that certain vitamins, minerals, and compounds keep eyes healthy and prevent eye diseases. Here are some suggested vitamins for you to add to your diet:
- Beta-carotene: This is a type of Vitamin A found in orange fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene helps the eye function appropriately, especially the retina. You can find beta-carotene in many different foods such as citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemons, and oranges), berries, and color vegetables (bell peppers, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and tomatoes.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin helps reduce eye diseases. If you are getting beta-carotene in your diet, then you are also getting vitamin C.
- Carotenoids: This fat-soluble pigment also keeps eye diseases at bay. Carotenoids must be eaten because the human body does not produce them. Foods with Vitamin C and beta-carotene often contain carotenoids.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These are specific carotenoids that protect the eye from cataracts and macular degeneration. To get these carotenoids, eat leafy green vegetables such as chard, collard greens, kale, and spinach. They are also found in avocados, broccoli, and peas.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: This good fat keeps the eye moist and prevents eye diseases. Eating omega-3 fatty acids is easy by adding eggs, fish, and nuts.
Unfortunately, eating well does not reverse eye damage. That is why it is essential to start eating healthy as a child and continue this habit through adulthood. If you have not been eating healthy up to this point, starting a supplement program now can protect your eyes from further damage.
Tip #3: Lose Weight
Although many general practitioners focus on how obesity affects the heart and blood sugar, eye doctors warn that being overweight can cause eye problems. Studies show that those who are overweight are more likely to:
- Develop cataracts
- Increase glaucoma risk due to high blood pressure and diabetes
Talk with your healthcare provider if you need help losing weight. They can provide information on nutritious eating and exercise. As an added benefit, aerobic exercise (the kind that elevates your heartbeat), can slow down vision loss caused by aging.
Tip #4: Stop Smoking
You likely know that smoking puts your lungs and heart at risk, but did you know it is detrimental to your eyes! For example, smoking can cause a condition called Uveitis, which is a term that encompasses several inflammatory diseases. Uveitis is a terrible condition that can lead to complete blindness. This condition primarily attacks the middle layer of the eye, the uvea. However, this condition can affect other parts of the eye such as the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. Uveitis inflammatory diseases will cause the retina to detach, resulting in vision loss.
Furthermore, smokers are four times more likely to go blind in old age. Smoking also leads to dry eye condition as well as increases the risk of developing macular degeneration. Cataracts and glaucoma are also common conditions caused by smoking.
Tip #5: Pay Attention to Digital Devices
The major concern about digital screens is the blue light ray exposure to the eye. Blue light rays are the shortest waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. These rays, when emitted from the sun, are good for us. They give us the most energy during the day, increasing attention span, and boosting our mood. But is constant blue light ray emission from screens directly into our eyes damaging? Some eye professionals say that it is and that it may cause cataracts and retina damage. But others are adamant to say that it doesn’t. However, one thing everyone agrees on is that too much screen time causes eye strain.
You can reduce eye strain by following the 20/20/20 rule. This rule says that you need to stop looking at your digital screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds. Instead of focusing on your screen, focus on something 20 feet away. Reducing screen time altogether is another option.
You may also want to consider doing eye exercises that relieve eye strain. Some exercises will help strengthen your eyes muscles. Others will help relax tired muscles.
Sleep disruption is another concern as a result of too much screen time. When you are absorbing blue light into your eyes at night, your body's natural release of melatonin is inhibited. You may notice that watching television late at night is bearable, but once you turn it off, you can barely stay awake. This is because your body has begun releasing melatonin.
If you are concerned about blue light rays, you can purchase blue light screen filters for all of your digital devices. If you do this, you may find that the screen is more comfortable to look at and eye strain is reduced.
Eye Health Tips ChecklistIn addition to following the preceding five tips, here are a few more tips for maintaining excellent eye health:
- Have eye exams regularly.
- Wear safety eyewear when using tools or equipment that damages the eyes.
- Wash your hands before touching near your eyes or handling your contact lenses.
- Replace contact lenses as recommended by your eye doctor.
Following all of these tips will help keep your eyes healthy for years to come.