5 Essential Tips for Better Eye Health Today
The eyes are an essential part of the body, however, when it comes to eye health most people don’t know where to start and assume there's nothing they can do about it.
News flash - that's NOT true!
In fact, there are many things you can start doing as early as today to improve your eyesight, protect your eyes, or prevent any age-related vision issues. We were recently inspired by our friends at Warby Parker and by the fact that May is Healthy Vision Month to pull together our 5 essential tips for achieving better eye health today.
Tip #1: Receive Routine Eye Exams
When looking to help your eyesight, the first step you should take is going to an optometrist if you haven’t ever been. Even if you don’t wear corrective lenses, you may still have underlying eye issues that you aren’t aware of. If you are a parent, it is important to take your children to see an eye doctor on a regular basis. It is vital to their growth and development that you stay on top of any possible vision problems. In adulthood, here’s a guide to follow for when you should be receiving eye exams:
- Every five to 10 years in your 20's and 30's
- Every two to four years from 40 to 54
- Every one to three years from 55 to 64
- Every one to two years after age 65
If you already wear glasses or contacts, then you should be going to the eye doctor once a year for a checkup on changes in prescription and general eye health concerns.
Tip #2: Use Eye Protection
If you’ve gone to an optometrist, surely you’ve heard them explain how important eye protection is. Just like sunscreen protects the skin from the sun, you have to protect your eyes from it as well and the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays it gives off. UV-A and UV-B rays can have both short-term and long-term negative effects on vision, like sun burnt eyes and even vision loss.
Sun burnt eyes, or photokeratitis, occurs when you are exposed to a large number of UV rays in a short period of time. For example, looking up towards the sun on a bright, sunny day can cause photokeratitis. The symptoms can be red eyes, a gritty and dry feeling, pain, and light sensitivity, luckily, sun burnt eyes are temporary and won’t cause lasting damage. But that doesn’t mean the sun isn’t damaging long-term because the longer your eyes are exposed to UV rays the more likely you are to develop cataracts or macular degeneration. Both of these conditions can lead to vision loss over time, in fact, cataracts are the number one cause of blindness in the world.
Protect your eyesight with UV-blocking sunglasses and other accessories to help keep you shaded from the sun. Wide brim hats and umbrellas are also useful for protection, as well as staying in shaded areas as much as possible.
Eye protection goes beyond sunglasses alone - safety glasses, when needed, are vital for healthy vision. If your job requires safety wear then it’s important to always comply to help protect your eyes at work. These types of glasses are usually impact-resistant, shield the entire eye area, and help block you from any hazards that may come in contact with your eyes. Depending on the line of work, foreign objects could scratch the eye, splashes of chemicals, burns, and even transmittal of infectious diseases can be a risk.
Tip #3: Beware of Digital Blue Light
In recent studies, artificial blue light has been proven dangerous to the body. Although it’s environmentally friendly (like LED light bulbs) it can still be damaging to vision. Artificial blue light is given off by electronic devices like cellphones, computers, tablets, and televisions, and they produce these short, high-energy wavelengths, which is why you can feel the effects on your body.
When it comes to eye health, The Vision Council coined a term to explain the symptoms of blue light you may feel - digital eye strain. Some symptoms are dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches, all from extended use of electronics. Think of the typical work day in an office - up to eight hours of consecutive computer usage with little or no breaks except lunch. If this is similar to your day at work and you begin to feel any eye strain or headaches, harmful blue light is probably the cause. Although the effects of blue light don’t cause lasting damage to the eyes, it can be extremely uncomfortable, painful, and disrupt your day.
To help combat any of the symptoms you may be feeling, try to take breaks from your electronics regularly. Even if you have been doing research or scrolling through social media for a few hours on your phone, take a break to rest your eyes. Try to stay off of your devices for at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, and look at something 20 feet away from you. This will help your eyes adjust to the natural light of the room you’re in. To take an extra precaution, look into blue-light-filtering eyeglasses to wear while you use your phone, computer, or watch TV. These are especially helpful to those that work on a computer or tablet full-time because you may forget to take breaks from your screen if you’re busy, so blocking your eyes with glasses is a smart layer of protection to have.
Want more information about the eye health risks associated with digital blue light exposure? HOYA has put together a terrific infographic that you may want to check out!
Tip #4: Add Eye-Healthy Foods to Your Diet
Nutrition plays a key role in the overall health of the body, eyes included! There are many wholesome nutrients available for you to add into your diet, all you need is the information to know what to look for.
Foods high in vitamin A, omega 3s, lutein, and zeaxanthin can all help you improve your vision. Vitamin A helps night vision, omega 3s help the cells in your eyes reproduce, and lutein and zeaxanthin help block blue light from reaching the eyes. All of these nutrients can either help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, and/or vision loss.
Here are some examples of foods to incorporate into your diet for eye health:
- Foods high in Vitamin A: carrots, broccoli, dairy products, sweet potatoes, spinach, cantaloupe, and mangoes
- Foods with omega 3s: nuts, chia seeds, Brussels sprouts, fish, and eggs
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin rich foods: green vegetables and leafy greens
If you are unsure if you’re reaching your recommended daily dose of these key nutrients, talk to your doctor about exactly how much you should be eating to help improve your vision. Luckily, all of these nutrients are available in supplement form. Recently on our blog, we talked all about omega fatty acids supplements and how they can be beneficial for you beyond just eyesight. However, it’s easy to find a variety of vitamins and nutrients in supplement form to help aid in your eye health.
Tip #5: Rest Your Eyes
Just like the rest of the body, the eyes need a break; this is an absolutely necessary part of bettering your eye health. Luckily, the eyes get plenty of rest during a night of sleep and they are able to restore themselves after a long day.
To ensure you’re getting the best sleep possible, be aware of blue light at night time, too. Blue light regulates the circadian rhythm and tells the body it’s time to be awake and alert. Stay away from blue light for at least an hour before you go to bed to help get great sleep. Another tip for better sleep is using CBD oil to help reduce stress and to calm the body, reduce your caffeine intake, and try meditation to help prepare yourself for bed.
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation can be harmful for vision too because your body doesn’t have enough time to regenerate tears and new cells. When you don’t produce enough tears your eyes can feel dry and itchy, and over time it can lead to eye strain and burst blood vessels. Therefore, you need adequate sleep to help your vision and the lack of it can be detrimental.
Like mentioned above, there are other ways to give your eyes a break during the day. You don’t have to wait for night time to help your eyes feel better if they are bothering you. Be mindful about how long you’ve been looking at your electronic’s screen, cover your eyes during the day and allow them to adjust to the darkness for a nice break, and blink often for refreshing tear production.
There are plenty of things you can do to prioritize your eye health, and it’s important to start now! With age, eyesight tends to get worse and the chances for vision loss increase. Whether it’s going to the eye doctor, treating yourself to new frames, or beginning to take supplements to help improve your vision - these are all great steps to take to start focusing on such an important part of the body.