Good Habits for Good Eyesight

Good eyesight is an important part of well being and a significant factor in retaining independence and quality of life as we get older. Contrary to popular belief, loss of vision does not need to be an accepted consequence of ageing. Vision can deteriorate for many reasons and, even when associated with the ageing process, many interventions are available.

The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 80 per cent of blindness and serious vision loss around the world is avoidable through prevention or treatment.

Make a conscious effort to keep your eyes in their best condition by practising the following good habits.

Protect Your Eyes With Sunglasses

Provide adequate protection for your eyes from sunlight exposure, especially when young. Harmful ultraviolet light from the sun causes several known conditions to occur in the eye. Sunlight has been shown to speed up the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. It can also cause abnormal thickening or growths to form on the white part of the eye. Especially at risk are people who spend long hours in the sun, who have had cataract surgery or who are taking certain medications. Furthermore, sunglasses reduce glare and bright light that may impede your vision and cause accidents.

Keep A Healthy Lifestyle

Control your weight and exercise regularly. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Limit your intake of fats, eat fish two or three times a week, eat dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily and a handful of nuts a week.

Do Not Smoke

Smoking can cause you to develop cataracts and increases your risk for developing macular degeneration. There is a 50% increase of incidence of macular degeneration in people who smoke. People who smoke are prone to an optic nerve condition that can produce profound vision loss. Smoking is also a major irritant to people with dry eye syndrome.

Eye Safety

Protect your eyes by wearing approved safety eye wear around the home, garden, in the workshop and DIY projects. The vast majority of eye injuries can be prevented by taking simple precautions when working around your home. Often people are unaware that many home maintenance or DIY projects do require you to wear appropriate eye protection.

Limit Alcoholic Beverages

Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body, including the eyes. Dry eye symptoms are much more likely to develop if you drink alcohol. Drinking large quantities of alcohol may cause nutritional problems and may lead to toxic amblyopia, an optic nerve disease.

Keep Blood Sugar Within Healthy Limits

Continually challenging your body with foods that are rich in fat and sugar can put you at risk for developing large blood sugar fluctuations and eventually, diabetes. If you already have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar levels stable can prevent or delay the onset of diabetic eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. Blood sugar fluctuations can also make the natural lens inside the eye swell, resulting in large prescription changes.

Keep Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Under Control

High blood pressure can lead to hypertensive retinopathy, a condition that left untreated can result in blindness. In addition, high blood pressure has been found to increase your risk for eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration. High blood pressure and high cholesterol places you at risk for developing a stroke or a central retinal artery occlusion. Strokes affecting one side of the brain often produce large blind spots in your vision. A central retinal artery occlusion is a “stroke to the eye” and usually produces profound vision loss.

Have Regular Eye Examinations

Having a regular eye examination promotes eye health. It is easy to do, cost- effective and you just might learn a thing or two. Serious eye conditions are usually detected before vision or eye health is impacted. Regular eye examinations also allow your optometrist to measure your vision so that changes can be made to your prescription, ensuring your best possible vision. Having your eyes tested regularly for vision and general eye health can help identify problems early and prevent loss of eyesight. An eye test is a simple and vital factor in maintaining healthy eyes.

Nutrition and Your Eyes

Good nutrition is not only good for your general health, but also your eye health. A balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts and fish provides essential antioxidants that have been proven to support the functioning of the eyes.

When dietary intake in inadequate, nutritional supplements can be taken. There are many products available that are specifically marketed for protecting eye health. However, these should only be taken in consultation with your optometrist.

A variety of different foods contain antioxidants which can help you to maintain your eye health. Below is a list of those foods containing beneficial antioxidants.

AntioxidantProperties
Vitamin E
Seeds, fruit, seed oils, nuts, salads, cereals, sweet potatoes.
Vitamin E is important for the retina, the layer of tissue inside the eye that collects light and enables you to see.
Vitamin C
Fresh fruit, vegetables, juice.
Long-term consumption of vitamin C as part of a healthy diet has been shown to contribute to cataract prevention.
Zinc
Seafood, meat, nuts, beans.
In the eye, high doses of zinc, in combination with other antioxidants, have been found to significantly reduce the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration (MD). While not a cure or a means of repairing damage from MD, zinc may work to slow its progression.
DHA/EPA
Flat seeds, fleshy fish ex, tuna or salmon.
EPA/DHA is an essential fatty acid which stands for docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. These polyunsaturated fats play a very important role in the function of our bodies, and seem to be necessary for healthy eye function.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Corn, spinach, cabbage, oranges, celery, red peppers, eggs.
These antioxidants play crucial roles in maintaining the health of the eyes, helping to filter out harmful blue light and quench hazardous free radicals in the macula. They may help in the prevention of cataracts.
Selenium
Bread, fish, brazil nuts.
This trace mineral is important for the proper function of the retina.
Copper
Mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, liver, beans, lentils.
Copper is a trace nutrient essential to all high plants and animals. It can act as an antioxidant, scavenging damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals may contribute to the ageing process as well as the development of a number of heath conditions.
Co-enzyme Q10
Fish, meat, grains, peanuts.
This antioxidant has been found to stimulate the immune system and may be beneficial for people with diabetes.
Glutathione
Asparagus, avocado, walnuts, garlic, eggs, onion, watermelon.
Animal studies have shown glutathione to be an effective anti-cataract agent and it may help to reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients.
Lipoic Acid
Yeast, red meat, potatoes, spinach.
Promising animal studies have shown that it may help to reduce the incidence of cataracts.