As we age, we can become more vulnerable to developing age-related eye conditions, diseases, and vision loss. The best way to stave off, or better yet, prevent deterioration of your eye health (other than to have regular eye exams) is to take proper care of your eyes now. Here are some ways you can start supporting and maintaining your eye health.
Eat a balanced diet
You may have heard that eating carrots will benefit your eye health—and it’s true! Carrots are a good source of lutein and beta carotene, which are antioxidants that help protect you from age-related degenerative eye diseases. Beta carotene turns into vitamin A when you consume it, which is a nutrient that can help you see in the dark.
Foods that are rich in vitamins A and C, such as leafy green vegetables, are especially good for eye health, as well as foods that contain essential omega-3 fatty acids like salmon.
Avoid alcohol and saturated fats which create free-radical reactions that can harm the macula (the part of the eye responsible for central vision), and also cause deposits that constrict blood flow in the arteries.
Regular exercise improves blood circulation, which in turn improves oxygen levels to the eyes.
Get a good night’s sleep
When you don’t have a restful slumber, you often see and feel it in your eyes. Getting a good night’s sleep will support your overall health, as well as the health of your eyes.
Wash your hands
Keeping your hands clean is especially important if you wear contacts. Before touching your eyes, you should wash your hands with mild soap and dry them with a lint-free towel. Germs and bacteria can be transferred from your hands to your eyes and cause eye infections such as bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye).
The connection between smoking and eye health isn’t specified, however, smoking exposes your eyes to high levels of oxidative stress and can increase your risk for a variety of health conditions that affect your eyes.
Your eyes are very sensitive to harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. Wearing sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection in combination with a brimmed hat will reduce the UV exposure sustained by your eyes.
Devices and blue light
Many of us require digital devices for work and study, as well as for leisure activities. You are probably reading this article right now using a digital device! These devices expose your eyes to high-energy blue light, which are wavelengths emitted near the bluer part of the spectrum. Our eyes need the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin to help our eyes filter blue light, but they don’t occur naturally in our bodies, so we have to get them through our diet or through supplements.
Other tips to help support your eye health while you’re looking at a screen:
- Keep your computer screen within 20 and 24 inches of your eye
- Keep the top of your computer screen slightly below eye level
- Adjust lighting to minimize glare on the screen
- Remember to blink frequently
- Take a break every 20 minutes to focus on an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds
- Use lubricating eye drops if your eyes become irritated or dry