How to Take Care of Your Eye Health

How to Take Care of Your Eye Health

We all know how important it is to look after our mental and physical health, and more and more of us are making the time and effort to prioritise our wellbeing. That being said – there are certain aspects of our health that many of us take for granted, including our vision. Despite our eyes being one of the smallest organs in our body, they are one of the most important. Luckily, there’s a number of things we can do to look after our eyes and maintain optimal vision.
Protect your eyes

Just like we protect our skin in the sun, we need to protect our eyes. Sunglasses aren’t just a must-have summer accessory, they’re actually a really important way to help protect our eyes from UV exposure. While taking in both natural and artificial light is essential to allow our vision and circadian rhythm to function properly, UV exposure has no benefit for our eye health, and can actually lead to cataracts and impaired vision[i]. So, if you’re wondering if you really need that other pair of sunglasses… just think of them as an investment for your health!

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Relax your eyes

Just like our bodies would become tired and less effective if under constant strain, our eyes are no different. Unfortunately, much of our lives now depend on staring at screens all day, whether it be for working, socialising, or unwinding. While a lot of screen time is unavoidable, we can help our eyes by taking short, regular breaks away from the screen to allow them to relax. What’s more, having to focus too much on what’s on a screen can cause you to blink less, which can lead your eyes to be dry and irritated. To prevent this, ensure your screen is the correct distance away, at the right height and adjust the brightness to keep eye strain to a minimum.

Check your eyes

With many aspects of our health, we often wait until problems occur before getting checked by a health professional. However, many eye problems have no symptoms and while we may think our vision is optimal, symptoms such as regular headaches can be a sign that this isn’t the case. Just like we would go to the dentist for regular check-ups (even if we weren’t having any symptoms), we should treat check-ups with an optician with the same importance.

Nourish your eyes

There’s no avoiding that good nutrition is essential for all aspects of our health, and it can have a major impact on our eyes. Among the most important nutrients that keep our eyes functioning optimally are B-vitamins, Zinc and Omega-3 DHA.

B-vitamins for eyes

Studies have shown that B-vitamins play an important role in eye health by helping to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration - a common eye disorder causing blurred and reduced vision[ii]. Vitamin B2 is particularly important for our eyes - as it’s an antioxidant, it can reduce oxidative stress damaging tissues in the body, including in the eyes. In particular, it’s thought that this gives Vitamin B2 the potential to prevent cataracts, as many people who suffer with them are also deficient in Vitamin B2[iii].

Zinc for eyes

Your eyes contain high levels of Zinc – since our bodies cannot make or store this nutrient, it’s important to ensure we are getting enough on a regular basis to keep the levels in our body where they need to be. Zinc is involved in the process of forming the pigments that we need for vision, and has been shown to slow down macular deterioration, helping to maintain visual sharpness[iv].

Omega-3 for eyes

Omega-3 DHA is thought to be the most complex form of omega-3, but is also one of the most difficult to consume enough of, since it’s present in limited food sources. It’s vital for eye development during infancy, meaning that deficiency can impair vision, especially in children. Studies have also shown that supplementing with Omega-3 can help to improve dry eye symptoms, by increasing the production of tear fluid[v].

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References -
[i] Roberts, J.E. (2011) Ultraviolet radiation as a risk factor for cataract and macular degeneration. Eye & Contact Lens, 37(4), pp. 246-249.
[ii] Huang, P., Wang, F., Kumar Sah, B., Jiang, J., Ni, Z., Wang, J., & Sun, X. (2015) Homocysteine and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports, 5(1).
[iii] Skalka, H.W. & Prchal, J.T. (1981) Cataracts and riboflavin deficiency. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 34(5), pp. 861-863.
[iv] Newsome, D.A., Swartz, M., Leone, N.C., Elston, R.C. & Miller, E. (1988) Oral zinc in macular degeneration. Archives of ophthalmology, 106(2), pp. 192-198.
[v] Wojtowicz, J.C., Butovich, I., Uchiyama, E., Aronowicz, J., Agee, S. & McCulley, J.P. (2011) Pilot, prospective, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled clinical trial of an omega-3 supplement for dry eye. Cornea, 30(3), pp. 308-314.
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