1. Eat right. Eye health starts with your diet. You’ve likely heard that carrots are good for your eyes, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that these whole foods are supportive, too:
- Spinach, kale, collards, and other green leafy vegetables, which contain lutein, zeaxanthin, and other antioxidants.
- Oranges and other citrus fruits high in vitamin C.
- Salmon, tuna, halibut, and other oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Get moving. The National Eye Institute reports that physical activity can lower your risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, which can cause vision problems. Plus, a 2017 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Ophthalmology showed that even low to moderate exercise dramatically reduced the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration — which affects some 2 million Americans.
Additionally, a 2018 study of glaucoma sufferers found that taking an extra 5,000 steps a day could slow the rate of vision loss by 10 percent.
3. Wear your shades. The sun’s UV light can damage the protein in your eyes’ lens, leading to cataract formation. So, don your sunglasses, summer and winter, whether it’s sunny or cloudy. Look for shades with “100% UV” or “UV400” protection.
4. Hydrate. Your eyes produce fluid to keep the conjunctiva — the thin surface membrane — moist, and to prevent irritation and inflammation. Tear production naturally diminishes as you age, so stay hydrated and use artificial tears if needed. Look for preservative-free eye drops, since chemicals such as benzalkonium chloride can cause irritation.
5. Protect your peepers. Every day, 2,000 U.S. workers suffer eye injuries requiring medical treatment, reports the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Safety eyewear can prevent 90 percent of such injuries and reduce the severity when they occur, the CDC says.
6. Relieve computer eyestrain. Intensive screen use may tire your eyes: Some reports claim that digital devices expose your eyes to high-energy visible (HEV) blue light, which causes irritation and makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night; the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says it’s just digital eyestrain. Either way, consider these tips:
- Invest in prescription computer glasses to slightly magnify the screen and ease eyestrain. You can also get photochromic yellow-tinted lenses to neutralize the blue light. The AAO, however, has questioned their effectiveness.
- Every 20 minutes, gaze 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds to reduce eyestrain.
7. Get an eye checkup. An estimated 93 million U.S. adults are at risk for vision loss, but only half of those at risk visited an eye doctor in the past year.
8. Review your family’s eye-health history. Many eye diseases and conditions are hereditary, so it’s worth learning whether family members or relatives have been diagnosed with one.
This article originally appeared as “Look Out for Your Eyes” in the October 2021 issue of Experience Life.