Nutrients that nurture your eyes
Even the vibration from driving a car has been shown to have a cumulative negative effect on eye health over time. Understanding nutrition and eye health can be one of the best ways to support your vision.
A gradual falling off in sight used to be accepted as a normal part of ageing. This is true in some ways. For example, many people need reading glasses as they reach their 40s. However recent research suggests many age, environment and lifestyle related eye problems could be avoided meaning more of us could have good eyesight into our 80s or 90s.
Working at a computer screen greatly increases the risk of eye strain, arranging your work space appropriately – ensuring you sit a comfortable distance from the screen, lighting your screen from behind, anti glare devices and regular work breaks can all help. It’s also a good idea to control the room’s humidity by having plants or cut flowers near by to reduce dry air which attracts dust and irritates the eyes.
Eye Health Dos and Don’ts
Make sure you have adequate light when reading, working and watching TV
Wear UV protection in sunglasses and eyeglasses
Drink at least 6 glasses of water a day
Wear sunglasses and a broad-rimmed hat in bright sunlight
Have regular check ups with an optician
Eat a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables
Always look after contact lenses as detailed by your optician or ophthalmologist
Supplement your diet with ‘eye friendly’ nutrients
Sleep with contact lenses still in your eyes unless your optician or ophthalmologist advises that it is acceptable
Smoke and try to avoid smoky environments
Ignore changes in your vision. Small changes in your vision may indicate a bigger problem
Stare at a computer screen for longer than 20 minutes
Watch television in a dark room
Touch areas near your eyes with dirty hands, as you may develop an infection
Drink excessive alcohol as it can damage the optic nerve
A healthy diet for healthy eyes
As diet has come to play an increasingly influential role in the maintenance of healthy body systems, it has become clear that nutrients are able to affect the health of the eyes. Links have recently been established between diets that are rich in certain antioxidants, specifically carotenoids, and a reduced risk of chronic and debilitating eye problems, such as Cataracts and Glaucoma.
Here are some key nutrients that have been shown to support and improve eye health:
• Studies on visual health showed that dietary carotenoids are associated with reduced risk of developing macular degeneration – foods rich in carotenoids include leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach and spring greens.
• Further studies have shown a positive link between two specific carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) and reduced cataract development. Egg yolks are a particularly rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin is found in greens like peas, courgettes, broccoli and corn.
• Beta carotene is converted by the body into Vitamin A – an important antioxidant which resists oxidative stress. Continued oxidative stress may result in impaired blood flow to the eyes and has been linked with the development of cataracts. Bilberries, blueberries and apricots are all good sources of beta carotene.
• More familiar antioxidants, the A, C & E vitamins and Selenium have all been linked with protecting the eye from vascular disease and add further fuel to the message that we should all be eating more fruits and vegetables.
Our eyes are thought to be the most important sensory organs in the body and yet so many of us take our vision for granted. What we eat and how we work and live can truly make a difference to how well we see now and in the future. As a general precaution, or for when life is busy it may be a good insurance policy to include a supplement which is specifically formulated for the eyes.
Common Eye Problems:
Cataracts are a cloudiness of the lens in the eye. They occur as a result of ageing changes but are more common in diabetics or after trauma, as well as in those on medication such as steroids.
Even if your eyes are healthy, your job can put extra strain on your eyes or cause other eyehealth problems. Eye strain means a sensation of tired eyes, which may be accompanied by increasing difficulty focusing or seeing, dryness, headache and general discomfort.
This is an ageing change in the centre of the eye and causes a slow loss of the central vision. In most cases it isn’t treatable, but it doesn’t usually lead to complete loss of vision.
Glaucoma causes an increase in the pressure in the eye. Left untreated the retina and nerves are damaged and sight gets worse. You may notice pain and redness or just that you have difficulty seeing.
As with the rest of the body, damage to the fine blood vessels in the eye can cause sight loss. Certain conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, make this damage more likely. It’s important to keep chronic diseases well managed in order to protect your vision.
These small, dark, floating marks are usually harmless and so are more of a nuisance on bright days.