Eyesight weakening is a natural part of aging. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) UK 48% blindness caused by Age-related muscular degeneration also known as (AMD), 17% Glaucoma, 16% Cataracts, 9% Other eye diseases, 8% Diabetic eye disease, and 2% Refractive error. There are simple things we can do to slow the progression and help to boost the health of our eyes.
Eat raw spinach
It contains an antioxidant called lutein, which helps protect against eye damage. But cooking spinach can reduce its potency, while tearing it up and eating it raw can boost its effects, according to Swedish research. Give it an extra kick by eating it with dairy foods (with yogurt or milk in a smoothie, for instance), because the fat in dairy foods increases lutein absorption.
Get the correct prescription
It’s important to make sure you don’t get eyestrain and headaches, and it won’t mean you’ll rely on them more, says optometrist Sonia Hameed. “I see a lot of people who don’t want to wear glasses because they think it may make their eyes weaker, but that’s just not the case.”
They’re important to protect your eyes against UV-ray sun damage. Sonia says, “We all know the damage UV can do to our skin, but our eyes are up to 10 times more sensitive” Look for sunglasses with a European Standard CE mark, UV 400, or British Standard Mark to ensure you have adequate UV protection for your eyes.
Control your blood pressure
Untreated high blood pressure can affect your eyesight and lead to eye disease (hypertensive retinopathy) by damaging the blood vessels in the retina. Control blood pressure by keeping to a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and having your pressure checked routinely. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s important to take any prescribed medication.
Smoking raises your risk of vision loss and several eye conditions, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. For help quitting, contact your local Tobacco Control Cell or (National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination) NHSR&C stop smoking service ([email protected]; https://tcc.gov.pk) for a free personal quit plan.
Have regular eye checkups
They’re crucial for spotting any problems early. Optometrist Naveed Afzal says, “Eye conditions such as glaucoma do not give you any symptoms until it’s too late, so it’s very important to keep up with eye exams at least once every two years to look for these problems.” More than 90 million people in Pakistan are entitled to free eye exams paid by the NHSR&C.
Lose some weight – if you need to
If you’re overweight and have high blood sugar levels, your vision can be affected because high blood sugar can make the eye lens swell, affecting the shape and focus of your eye. Continued high blood sugar raises your risk of cataracts and glaucoma, and causes the eye disease diabetic retinopathy, which can seriously damage the blood vessels in your eyes, causing sight loss. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes you should check your blood sugar levels regularly and keep them at a safe level.
Try to get enough shuteye
During sleep, our bodies undergo muscle and tissue repair, and the synthesizing of hormones, so it’s important to get the optimum six to eight hours’ rest to help our bodies, including our eyes, function efficiently. A lack of sleep can also cause eyestrain and dry eyes.
Limit your screen time
Too much time in front of a screen can cause eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes, known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Concentration leads to a decrease in blinking, so tears evaporate, resulting in dryness.
Try the 20:20:20 rule, says Naveed. “Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.” A recommended practice for people those who work regularly on computers, such as Software Engineers, Designers, Accountants, and Computer Operators.
Put on safety goggles when needed
Make sure you wear adequate eye protection whenever you’re doing anything that could cause potential injury to your eyes, such as gardening tasks or (Do it yourself) DIY.
If you notice any vision changes or eye pain, talk to your General Physician as soon as possible. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of sight loss in Pakistan. Symptoms include hazy vision, flickering light or colors looking less bright. ‘Wet AMD’ often produces visual deterioration and distortion and is an emergency.
Lower your cholesterol
High cholesterol narrows your arteries and can lead to various eye disorders, including retinal vein occlusion (blockage of the small veins in the retina) and xanthomas (fatty deposits beneath the skin around the eye). Reduce saturated fats in your diet, exercise regularly and take statins if prescribed.
Eat to boost eye health
A healthy diet plays a vital role in your overall health as well as important for eyesight. Here are a few foods that you should try in your daily diet.
- Vitamin A – A key ingredient for helping protect the retina and cornea. Try Leaf cabbage (kale) and carrots.
- Antioxidants – They protect the body against free-radical damage and keep cells healthy, so can reduce the risk of cataracts and glaucoma. Try green tea, turmeric, and garlic.
- Zinc – High levels of zinc are found in the retina, so keeping these levels healthy is thought to help maintain good eye health. Try avocado, raw almonds, lentils, and sunflower seeds.