Our eyes are how we see the world, literally. When we’re tired they might become sore, and if we wear glasses or contact lenses, our eyes may need more help to stay healthy. Staring at computer screens, our diet, and our genes can all have a negative impact on our eyesight and the health of our eyes. This article will run through eye health, and how we can try to maintain as healthy eyes as possible.
Many different things can affect the health of our eyes, and perhaps the most common eye condition is short-sightedness (myopia), by which people need to wear glasses in order to see clearly. Short-sightedness is so common that it’s estimated one in every three people are affected by it. The condition generally becomes apparent around puberty, and tends to worsen over time until the eye is fully grown.1
Myopia commonly runs in families, as there is a strong hereditary link but there have been a number of genes also associated with the development of shortsightedness. A study of over 45,000 people found over 20 genes that are associated with shortsightedness.2
There are a number of other factors which can lead to short sightedness, including prolonged periods staring at screens, or in low lighting. This causes the eye to grow slightly too long, and the light doesn’t focus on the light-sensitive tissue of the eye (retina). Instead, the light focuses just in front of the retina, and that means distant objects are blurred.3
Ways to keep your eyes healthy
One of the best things to do to keep on top of your eye health is to get regular eye tests. There is a common misconception that eye tests are to check for vision impairment, and check if your vision has changed. However, eye tests check more than just your sight. Eye tests check the health of your eyes, and can discover eye problems before you even develop symptoms. It is recommended that you get an eye test every 2 years, but more frequently if you are over 40 or have chronic health conditions such as diabetes.4
Having a healthy lifestyle increases your chances of having healthy eyes, so eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are recommended. Stopping smoking, limiting your alcohol intake and keeping moving are all hugely beneficial to eye health. Also, when it is very bright and sunny, you should wear sunglasses to protect your retinas.5 When you have to look at computer screens, or focus on something up close for a long period of time, it’s recommended that you take a break to focus on something on the opposite end of the room every twenty minutes. This allows your eye muscles to stretch.
Diet for healthy eyes
You’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes, but that isn’t the only vegetable that is. Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are particularly good for eye health, as are foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.6
Research has suggested that fish high in omega-3 fatty acids - salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout - are extremely beneficial to have in large amounts in your diet. This is partly because they are rich in DHA, an essential fatty acid that is found in your retina.7 Low levels of DHA have also been linked to dry eye syndrome, while increased levels of DHA can improve the syndrome.8
Citrus fruits are also great for eye health, due to their high levels of Vitamin C. Foods that are rich in Vitamin E are also beneficial for eye health, such as almonds.10
By ensuring your diet is healthy, you are increasing your chances of maintaining a healthy body weight, which in turn, decreases your chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults.11
Supplements for healthy eyes
Sometimes, our diet doesn’t enable us to absorb all the nutrients we need, which is when supplements can come in handy. Supplements do not replace the foods we eat, but are additional sources of vitamins and minerals which are essential for healthy bodies. Our bodies cannot always produce the vitamins and minerals we need, so a supplement is necessary in these instances.
Vitamin D is a vitamin that most people in the UK are deficient in, as the amount of sunlight is not sufficient to absorb and produce more of the essential vitamin. Similarly, Vitamin D is associated with dry eyes, so supplementing it could be worthwhile for your eyes, too.12
Lutein is known as the eye vitamin, which is a carotenoid related to Vitamin A, and is helpful in preventing age-related macular degeneration.13 It can be found in certain foods, including broccoli, corn, orange pepper and kiwi fruits.
Vitamin C is a multipurpose vitamin, which boosts our immune systems and reduces free radicals. It can help with repairing damaged tissue, which is integral to the health of our eyes.14
Vision Care multivitamins are specially designed to help maintain healthy eyes and helps to prevent eye and sight problems. These often contain lutein, along with bilberry and grape extract, which work together.15
Our eyes work very hard for us during our waking hours, to bring us around the world and we don’t always treat them the best. Long hours spent staring at computer screens without taking adequate breaks can strain the muscles. It can also cause dry eye, and other ailments. It’s important that we try to maintain as healthy and balanced a lifestyle as possible, and eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. This will improve our health, weight and eyes by reducing our chances of developing weight-related health problems along with their complications.