By: Nicholas Blight, OD
Healthy vision is more than just 20/20. Our eyes are designed to constantly and instantly provide visual feedback about our physical surroundings, it’s a big job and they need as much help as we can give them. In honor of healthy vision month, I would like to share some vision tips, to keep your eye healthy happy and seeing great.
The first vision tip is to have regular comprehensive eye examinations. The American Optometric Association recommends a child’s first eye check at 12 months old, the next at three years old, again right before starting school and then annually thereafter. During an exam an updated prescription for glasses is given, the eye health is evaluated and several recommendations are offered to improve visual performance and wellbeing.
Along with annual exams, tip number two is to keep glasses and contact lens prescriptions updated. Using the most up to date prescription is important to reduce eye strain and headaches, and to provide the clearest and most comfortable vision. Replacing contact lenses on the approved and recommended schedule is also key for healthy eyes and to avoid infections and discomfort.
My next tip is about workplace wellness. Eye protection, such as safety glasses and face shields are critical to protect against eye injury and avoid preventable damage and vision loss. If your work environment doesn’t include flying bits of metal, wood or other small projectiles you likely spend a significant amount of time on a computer or other device screen. You may be at higher risk for visual issues related to fatigue and stain. High energy blue light emitted from digital screens tend to make our eyes work hard while focusing. Blue light also interrupts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Over the course of a day, that additional work causes tired eyes that feel strained and may cause difficulty falling asleep or getting a restful night. Wearing glasses that filter blue light can reduce strain, help your eyes feel less tired at the end of the day and even improve your sleep habits.
Let’s talk about nutrition, my last healthy eye tip is about how you can provide high-quality building blocks for the best structure and function of the eyes. If you’re like me, you have childhood memories of your mother, grandmother or another caring adult in your life, telling you to eat your vegetables. And to overcome your hesitation, they may have said something like “carrots are good for your eyes.” While they were correct, there are a lot of great things we can eat that are good for your eyes. Following is a list of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good eye health, and some examples of foods where we can get them.
Beta-carotene – is converted into Vitamin A, which is needed for the mucin layer of tears, and is crucial for good night vision
Foods rich in Beta-carotene: carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, and cantaloupe.
Zinc – Is required to transport Vitamin A from the liver to the eyes and is made into melanin
Foods rich in Zinc: legumes, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lima beans, and peanuts. Other foods high in zinc are oysters, lean beef, pork, and chicken – dark and breast meat
Vitamin C – supports blood vessel health and is an anti-oxidant that protects against macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy
Foods rich in Vitamin C: citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines. Other foods with high levels of Vitamin C are peaches, red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, bok choy, cauliflower, and papaya
Omega 3s – stimulates vision development for infants, protects against dry eye, macular degeneration, and glaucoma
Foods rich in Omega 3s: salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, and halibut
Lutein and zeaxanthin – these are macular pigments that block high energy blue light, which causes macular degeneration, and protects against cataracts
Foods rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin: kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, collards, turnip greens, eggs, broccoli, peas, and corn
Vitamin E – Antioxidant that protects against free radical damage and reduces risks of macular degeneration
Foods rich in Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, sweet potatoes, and fortified cereals
I hope you find these healthy eye tips helpful, and that this month can be the start to a lifetime of happy healthy great seeing eyes.