26 January 2017
Your Most Important Asset: Healthy Vision
How can you keep your eyes healthy?
Your eyes are a very valuable asset and an important part of your health. As we grow older, our vision deteriorates, which is often accompanied by a variety of other unpleasant ailments. While normal, it is still important that we deal with our eyes in a careful manner.
First, did you know that your eyes are part of the nervous system? Knowing this helps us focus on the right things to keep eyes healthy, including getting enough rest and reducing stress. To maintain healthy eyes and reduce the risk of injury, follow these simple tips.
UV radiation can damage your eyes just like your skin. While the damage will not be immediately noticed, later in life it can mean the difference between seeing well versus being visually impaired. Prolonged and frequent exposure to UV radiation can cause serious problems like cataracts or retinal disease. It is important to wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days. While the clouds may hide the sun, the UV radiation is still there. Also, check the sunglasses you buy, ensuring they protect against both UV-A and UV-B radiation, paying attention to whether the frames fit properly and that they are large enough to prevent the UV light from reaching your eyes from either the top, bottom or sides.
Did you know that almost half of all accidents to the eyes happen at home? Most know to wear safety goggles while at work, but you should still invest in a pair for at home if there is a chance that debris could fly or hazardous substance could splash. This includes lighting off fireworks, which are the cause for a high number of Emergency Room visits each year. In the most severe cases, fireworks can cause corneal abrasion, retinal detachment, chemical and thermal burns, and even rupture the globe of the eye. What’s particularly alarming is that of those injured, nearly half were a bystander and 35% were age 15 or under. This is all the more reason to wear safety glasses when setting off or observing fireworks – you only have one pair of eyes!
Do not ignore eye problems
Do your eyes bother you? Do not assume that the problem will go away on its own. If you feel that there is a foreign object in your eye, you may be able to rinse it away with water or gently remove it with a damp washcloth, but be careful as to not scratch your eye while doing so. Dry eyes may be relieved with over-the-counter eye drops, especially if experienced when looking at a computer screen or book for too long, but if symptons worsen, contact a doctor who may be able to prescrib drops to help your condition. If you have pain, bouts of swelling or are sensitive to light, it would also be wise to schedule a visit with your doctor. This includes seeing dark spots, flashing lights or blurred vision. Getting your eyes examined regularly is wise, even if you do not wear glasses or contact lenses.
Smoking is not only bad for your body, but also very harmful to your eye health. Besides making your eyes uncomfortably dry, smoking increases the risk of cataracts due to the harmful substances in tobacco. Smoking promotes premature aging of the eye lens thereby decreasing the amount of protective antioxidants in the body, which protects against eye disease. The most common eye diseases in the US are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. These disorders are more common in smokers than non-smokers and can also be the cause of blindness, especially in those over the age of 65.
Vitamin A is essential for your eyes. It ensures proper functioning of the immune system so you do not get sick. One of the earliest signs of Vitamin A deficiency is night blindness with permanent blindness resulting if the deficiency is left unchecked. Conversely, too much vitamin A isn’t good for your body and can be toxic so be sure to avoid excessive intake, such as vitamins, and instead seek foods rich in the mineral, such as fruits and vegetables. Because our optic nerves are increasingly burdened by the use of computers, mobile devices and TVs, it is also important to eat foods that stimulate circulation: citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables and whole grains; or foods that are rich in zinc (nuts), lycopene (tomato), lutein (spinach) and zeaxanthin (eggs). Remember: variety is the spice of life, but also the key to a healthy life!