Now You Can See! How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy and Eyesight Strong
According to the report “Blindness and vision impairment” by the World Health Organization, 36 million people worldwide are blind, and 1.3 billion people on the planet suffer from some form of visual impairment. The fear of blindness is in the top five most widespread phobias (occupying the fourth place), but, surprisingly, we do very little to protect our eyes and decrease the chances of losing eyesight.
Even if you don’t have any issues with your eyesight, the doctors recommend visiting an ophthalmologist at least once per year. An expert can identify severe disorders in early stages just by the state of your eyes, blood vessels, and eye ground. Cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and even disseminated sclerosis are reflected in our eyes, which allows an attentive physician to make an early diagnosis.
Unfortunately, only a few can say they have ideal eyesight and absolutely healthy eyes. Those who have to spend many hours at the computer are complaining of dry and burning eyes. Many of those approaching 30 years of age lose eye strength, while by 45 years of age, we start to experience symptoms of hyperopia. One of the simplest things we can do for our eyesight (which is often neglected) is to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist for a complete eye checkup and never miss an annual examination.
When you must see a doctor
Preventive examinations are essential, but there are cases when you might need to see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid serious or even irreparable damage to your eye health. If you experience at least one of the following symptoms, you should definitely consult a doctor:
- Problems with seeing or driving at night
The most apparent signal that you should immediately attend to your eyesight is having trouble seeing or driving at night. It can be a sign of sight impairment, for example, age hyperopia or even developing a cataract. In any case, if you start having problems seeing objects at night, you should go to see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Red or pink eyes
Allergy, conjunctivitis, and even glaucoma can make our eyes and eyelids red. If the redness doesn’t disappear for more than two days, it’s advisable to consult a doctor as the problem may be very serious.
- Sensitivity to light
If you start getting uncomfortable or feeling pain in bright light, don’t delay visiting a doctor, as this can be a sign of inflammation. If you don’t take timely measures, it can lead to scarring, seriously impairing your eyesight. Besides, increased sensitivity to light can be a symptom of viral diseases, allergies, or bilious headaches.
- Dim eyesight or problems with focusing on objects
There are quite a few reasons why your eyesight may become unclear, but all of them are symptoms of serious problems. There are various solutions, from eye drops to surgery, but the treatment shall be prescribed by a doctor, so don’t delay.
- Eye pain
Infection, trauma, dry eyes, allergy, and even glaucoma are just a few reasons for eye pain. One important rule: if you feel even slight eye pain, you should immediately visit a doctor.
- Frequent headaches
Frequent or intense headaches are a reason to visit a doctor immediately. There are various reasons for these, but they also include eye disorders. Therefore, you may want to consult a specialist.
- Spots or flashes in your eyes
Disorders of eye retina integrity, retinal breaks, and other injuries can lead to dots, spots, or even flashes in your eyes. It is essential to visit a doctor as soon as possible to start therapy quickly. Getting early treatment is critical in case of eye disorders.
- Dry eyes
Women suffer from dry eyes more often than men, especially during menopause, since decreased production of some hormones can lead to dry mucous membranes. Dry eyes can be caused by contact lenses, dry air indoors or outdoors, or even taking some medications. Whatever the case, it is essential to see a doctor early.
What can be done to protect eyesight?
Most of us will face some visual impairments since, unfortunately, neither our physiology, nor science or medicine are able to withstand age-related changes so far. But, first of all, we are capable of delaying the inevitable, making the damage minimal. Here are some easy changes to your lifestyle and eating habits that can help protect your eyes.
- Eat spinach at least twice per week
Spinach contains lots of lutein, a useful substance helping to prevent age-related degeneration of macula lutea. According to the research “Lutein for Preventing Macular Degeneration” by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, just half a portion of spinach twice per week significantly decreases the risk of this eye disorder and keeps eyesight sharp even in older age.
- Keep your screen slightly below your eyes
Keep the screen slightly below your eye level when you work at a computer. This way, your eyes will be partially closed by your eyelids which will decrease evaporation and prevent developing dry eyes.
- Get some exercise
Indeed, sports are good for our health, including the health of our eyesight. Regular exercise improves blood circulation. As a result, all organs of our body get more oxygen. Try to exercise at least 150 minutes per week, which will decrease the chances of developing glaucoma by 40%, according to the research “Physical Activity, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Incident Glaucoma.”
- Skip trans fats
Pre-cooked sweets, chips, and especially fried food are dangerous for our health and sight. The more often we eat them, the stronger the chance of hidden inflammation, and the sooner we may develop macular degeneration followed by blindness.
- Wear sunglasses
Choose sunglasses with maximum UVA and UVB protection. The UV radiation damages eye lens protein, which increases the risks of age-related cataracts, according to the research “UVA light-excited kynurenines oxidize ascorbate and modify lens proteins through the formation of advanced glycation end products: implications for human lens aging and cataract formation.“ It is essential to wear glasses not only in summer and spring but also in winter as the sunlight reflected by snow can severely damage our eyes.
- Check for allergy
If your eyes itch, it can be a symptom of infection or a developing allergy. Rubbing affected eyes may lead to developing conjunctivitis and other eye infections. Thus if you suspect an allergy, go to see a doctor and follow his recommendations.
- Quit smoking
Regular smoking can impair not only your eyesight but also your ability to differentiate colors. The research, titled “Visual impairments in tobacco use disorder,” published in Psychiatry Research, has shown that smokers lose the ability to distinguish colors in red-green and blue-yellow spectrums. In addition, smoking more than a pack per day reduces the ability to determine contrast differences.
- Drink tea
Those of us who drink at least one cup of tea daily can significantly reduce the risk of glaucoma, which is one of the most widespread causes of blindness today. Research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology has confirmed that regular tea drinking can decrease the risk of these dangerous diseases by 74%.
- Take vitamins and supplements
The study, titled “Age-Related Eye Disease Studies“ conducted by the National Eye Institute (USA), in 2006 has confirmed that the regular intake of supplements, which included lutein, zeaxanthin, and anthocyanin (the latter is contained in large quantities in blueberries), vitamins C, A, and E, as well as zinc, can decrease the risk of retinal disorders or even prevent the development of progressing disease. Those participants of the research who were regularly taking supplements, vitamins, and microelements, have improved their eyesight by 25% during the five years of the experiment.
Trust your eyes
Indeed, never before have we had so many demands on eyesight as during the last decades. Gadgets and computers, which are an integral part of life for most of us, make our eyes constantly stressed and tired. The blue light emitted by these devices also negatively impacts our eyesight. The hypodynamia and polluted air add to that effect, increasing the risk of eye disorders, which can lead to partial or total loss of vision. Still, it is vital to know that, no matter how old you are, small changes in your way of life and eating habits, timely medical care, reasonable use of gadgets, and intake of vitamins can help your eyes and keep your eyesight sharp for long.
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