Eye health can be strenuous. (Pun intended.)
We rely on our eyes to experience the world, yet we are compounding the damage done to them every day.
So, how can we offset the harm we are causing our eyes, and begin to incorporate ocular health into our daily routine?
Did you know that 80% of what we perceive comes from our sense of sight? Eyesight is an incredibly valuable – yet completely undervalued – ability. In fact, 93 million adults in the United States currently have a high risk of developing vision loss. And yet, ocular health isn’t always prioritized when we consider preventative care. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests at least one eye exam in your twenties, two in your thirties, once at forty, and then as they experience adjustments in vision or a change in health. As you age, you may find yourself going to the doctor once or more every year to ensure your vision stays optimized.
So, how are we supposed to improve the health of our eyes between appointments? What does daily, at-home upkeep look like, and how can we engage in a healthy lifestyle to extend – and even improve – our eyesight?
Limit Your Screen Time
According to findings published in the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, pre-pandemic kids between the ages of 8 and 12 were already averaging 4-6 hours per day using screens, and teenagers about 9 hours. Since COVID-19 became a threat, individuals are spending an average of 13+ hours interacting with screens per day.
As is painfully obvious now, the blue lights on our digital devices can be very harmful to our eyes. According to research by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “This level of exposure to digital technology for work, school, entertainment, and everyday activities has created a set of symptoms known as digital eye strain (DES). Nearly 60% of Americans experience some symptoms of DES.” Common effects of too much screen time include irritated eyes, nearsightedness, and retinal damage. Taking screen breaks throughout the day can be very useful, as well as wearing blue light blocking glasses when you start to experience eyestrain. If you need to, consider shutting down the internet or turning off televisions and phones to discourage late-night usage.
If cutting usage of blue light is not necessarily an option, blue light blocking glasses work absolute wonders. Designed to reduce the amount of blue light that your eyes engage with, these types of glasses reduce eye strain and support eye health. Swanwick – affectionately referred to as “Swannies” by devotees – is the leading manufacturer of science-backed blue light blocking technology in their fashionable frames.
Available in a slew of options and designs, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing style for comfort. The day time crystal frames – designed to limit eye strain when using screens during the day – and night time gold aviators – which help to reduce exposure in the hours before bed and were dubbed by Rolling Stone as “best of” for blue light blocking options – are two of our favorite styles.
Consume a Balanced Diet
Remember knowing – innately, almost – that carrots were good for your eyes as a child? Well, it turns out it may have been closer to the truth than we thought, assuming our parents were just making excuses for us to eat our vegetables. As is the case with most things, incorporating a more balanced and healthy diet can help reduce any symptoms you may be experiencing, and slow down the degeneration of your eye health in general. When it comes to carrots? The vibrant beauties contain lutein and beta carotene aplenty, antioxidants known to target degenerative eye diseases specifically. Beta carotenes, in fact, are converted into vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A can help your eyes adjust to the dark, which can protect you from straining to see. In essence, beta carotenes double down on eye health benefits.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two nutrients found in dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, lettuce) and other foods like tangerines, persimmons, and corn that are particularly beneficial for eye health. They are the carotenoids that protect the retina of the eye from sunlight and free radical damage, which can physically tear at and destroy your corneas. They have also been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also found naturally in egg yolks, durum wheat, and Khorasan.
As we touched on, vegetables are not the only healthy option that strategically lend their benefits to eye health. Red berries, grapefruit, papaya, guava, and oranges are ripe with vitamin C, which lowers your risk for visual acuity loss and cataract development. Vitamin E – another essential nutrient – acts as a shield for cells inside your eyes against free radicals. Diets that incorporate vegetable oils, sweet potatoes, wheat germ, and nuts are considered phenomenal for eye health as well.
Introduce Supplements into Your Routine
Biotics Research formulated Optic-Plus™ specifically to support healthy ocular function. Not only does it provide the benefits from vitamins A, C, E, but it includes optimized versions of lutein and zeaxanthin, to help absorb the macular damaging blue light. Two capsules daily will deliver maximum benefits.
EyePromise also provides a unique blend in their Screen Shield™ Pro that helps to protect your eyes against the harms of the inevitable screen. This once-a-day softgel provides a generous amount of vitamins A, C, D, E, and B, as well as fish oil, zeaxanthin, lutein, and zinc, which supports the creation of melanin to protect the eye.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Just like you can engage in exercise to keep your muscles and joints in tip top shape, there are exercises you can do to help engage many of your senses and skills. The health of your eyes can truly benefit from regular, un-strained, movement and exercises. While few regimens exist for eye muscle strength and agility, it is important to note that macular degeneration and glaucoma will not slow down or be warded off with the continuous practice of these exercises.
Regular exercise – like running, lifting weights, and engaging in yoga – may help reduce your chances of developing degenerative eye diseases and issues that otherwise may not benefit from specific eye exercises and movements. The American Academy of Ophthalmology supports the stance that exercise strengthens your blood vessels, and might lend itself to the health of your eyes.
Cut Out Smoking
This may be more obvious than it seems, but cutting cigarettes out of your routine completely can greatly improve your eye health. While it is understandable to develop a habit like smoking to help deal with anxiety, give yourself something to do, feel the buzz afterward, or because you genuinely love the taste, finding a more productive or healthy option may help protect your eyes. Smoking has been directly linked to an increased risk of serious eye conditions that, in some cases, do lead to blindness.
Consider An Air Filter
Clean air is vital to your eye health, as you are exposed to free radicals and their ensuing damage daily. The AirDoctor 3000 is an insanely useful (and beautiful) filter, which is 100 times more effective than a regular HEPA filtration system. It happens to be the most silent air filter I’ve ever used, and that the air smells cleaner within minutes of it kicking into gear. (Auto-Mode makes this filtration system incredibly easy, safe, and cost effective to use.) Consider filling your home with plants to help offset some of the damage that may linger.
Keep Your Contacts Clean and Your Eyes Lubricated
Those of us who do not opt for ocular surgery may be lucky enough to find ourselves wearing contact lenses from time to time. While it is a privilege to be able to wear lenses directly on our eyes to make life a little more navigable, it is important to keep a stringent cleaning routine. Anything that is going to touch the surface of your eyes needs to be cleansed regularly for health and to avoid the risk of infection. For this same reason, make sure to keep your eye makeup options clean, and to stick with a regular replacement schedule for mascara and eyeliner.
As we age, dry eyes become more common leading to eye irritation. It is easy to lubricate your eyes and one of our favorites drops is from the Life Extensions called Brite Eyes III.
Remember, the key to health begins with a balanced diet. Ensure that key nutrients are working their way into your system as often as you can, and your body will benefit in many ways.
Our Swellstore is a great resource for additional ocular health supplements, as well as a slew of holistic options to consider for anything life may your way.