Your eyes are not only the windows to your soul but your window to the world. Preserving your eyesight is essential to maintaining your quality of life, and the guidelines for doing so are quite simple, and logical. Most of these things you already know, and you’ve heard your parents and friends, and indeed, doctors extoll the virtues of a healthy lifestyle, and your ophthalmologist will only emphasize the same. Healthy eyes reside in a healthy body, and the following are the specific interventions which will help you preserve your 6/ 6 or 20/20 vision.
1. A well-balanced diet is a key
To ensure your eye health, make sure you eat healthy food. A diet rich in like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and vitamins C and E help prevent certain degenerative eye diseases like Age-Related Macular degeneration, AMD, and cataract. These are also essential for maintaining the ocular surface. The importance of vitamin A for eye health, especially in children cannot be overemphasized.
Therefore, make sure your diet includes the following foods to ensure you get the optimal recommended daily dose of nutrients and micronutrients.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables
- Dark colored fruits (red and blue) especially berries
- Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish, if you are non-vegetarian
- Eggs, dals (lentils), milk and milk products, beans for protein
- Oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits
- Nuts and seeds like flaxseed and walnuts
A well-balanced diet will also help you keep your weight under control, keeping you safe from diabetes and lipid disorders, both of which can also affect your vision, in addition to having significant morbidity otherwise also.
2. Protect your eyes from the sun
The harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun have been known to be responsible for cataract and Age-Related Macular Degeneration too. Also, exposure to harmful sunlight can also increase your chances of eye problems like pterygia, and even ocular surface neoplasia, which may be a precursor for eye tumors.
It is therefore essential to wear the right sunglasses that shield the eye from both UV-A and UV-B radiation when outdoors. The appropriate pair for use would be a pair that blocks 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound sunglasses (think of the superhero Krrish) help protect your eyes from the sides also. Wraparound glasses have the additional advantage of also preventing exposure to allergy-causing agents in the environment, and decreasing the rate of tear film evaporation, and can tremendously help patients with pollen allergies and dry eye. Polarized lenses reduce glare while you drive, and also glare from snow and must be preferred by all sportsmen.
3. Stop smoking
Smoking and tobacco are severely deleterious to your general physical health. In case of your eyes, there is enough data to tell us that smoking increases the risk of AMD and cataracts manifold. It also makes your eyes drier and can have several effects which are far more serious on your lungs. All doctors will advise you to quit smoking since tobacco and tar products decrease the excellent free radical scavengers in your body, predisposing it to disease.
4. Visit your eye doctor regularly
There are several eye diseases which can only be picked up by a regular and comprehensive eye examination. An annual visit to the eye doctor, especially after the age of forty is essential. The advantages of this are many
- It helps you ascertain if you have, or have a higher risk for, eye diseases.It is especially true for diseases like glaucoma which have no symptoms until the advanced stages.
- In case there is a disease process, it can be picked up in the early stages. As is logical, early diagnosis and intervention is always better for the prognosis and will help preserve your vision better.
- It will help your doctor set a baseline for your eye examination, especially for your anterior chamber depth, optic nerve status, and macular health. These can be followed up on a regular basis, and any deviations from baseline can be picked up early on, helping in better disease management.
Also, it is good to have regular physical exams to check for diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure. If left undetected, these diseases can cause eye problems, in addition to the severe general health issues.
5. Prevent eye injuries by using safety goggles
Whether at home or work, if you use tools or any handle any equipment that involves chemicals or airborne materials, make sure wear the appropriate safety glasses or protective goggles. In case you use tools which may be a fire hazard or handle fireworks, make sure your eyes are adequately protected.
Sports injuries are also a significant cause of loss of vision so you must wear protective glasses when playing, as recommended. Experts usually recommend helmets with special protective face masks or sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses for players.
You can read more about eye trauma, and how to protect your eyes from eye injuries here.
6. Decrease your screen time
Staring at a screen for too long can cause several eye problems including:
- Eyestrain and headaches
- Dry eyes and computer vision syndrome
- Blurred vision and convergence insufficiency
To minimize the ill effects of screen time on your eyes, the following guidelines must be followed:
- Make sure you wear your glasses, and that the power of your glasses or contact lenses is appropriate.
- Take several breaks from looking at screens and doing eye exercises
- Think and blink to prevent excessive dryness if the eyes. Use over the counter preservative free; lubricating eye drops to ensure visual comfort.
- Try and avoid glare from direct light sources.
- Increase your font size, and adjust screen brightness for maximum comfort.
- Remember the 20-20-20 rule. You must rest your eyes every 20 minutes, close them, and then look at something at least 20 feet away for twenty seconds.
In case of any discomfort that persists, or any visual disturbances, make sure you see your eye care provider at the earliest.