It is common knowledge that a vision care exam is the number 1 way to ensure your eyes stay happy and healthy. But did you know that there are other, more unexpected ways to ensure you keep your eyes healthy?
While there is no substitute for scheduling an annual vision care screening with an optometrist, there are a myriad of ways to promote eye health regularly. Small lifestyle changes can make a difference in improving vision and health overall. Read more for surprisingly simple steps to take care of your eyesight daily.
1. Eat healthy
Carrots aren’t the only vegetable that can improve vision. One of the simplest secrets for promoting eye health is incorporating plenty of dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens into daily meals. Eating fish high in omega-3 like tuna and salmon help your eyes too, as this important polyunsaturated fatty acid supports retina health. Not a fan of fish? No problem. Protein from lean meats do the same trick as they are rich in Zinc. Eggs are great for eye health too as yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help prevent age-related macular degeneration.1
Ask the expert
“Nutritional deficiencies can negatively affect your eye health as well as your overall health. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene and vitamin C can help your eyes perform at their peak capacity. In addition, a diet containing carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin help protect against certain eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Foods rich in carotenoids include kale, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and colorful bell peppers. Supplementing your diet with a daily multivitamin is also a good way to ensure you are obtaining the nutrients your body and eyes require.” – Dr. Julie Hively, LensCrafters Optometrist (Chesterfield, MO)
2. Stay active
It’s no secret that being physically active keeps the body healthy and enables you to feel your best. But did you know that getting your heart pumping can also lower the risk of health conditions that may cause vision problems? That’s right. Adding more movement to your daily lifestyle can aid in preventing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Cardiovascular exercise can also lower intraocular pressure, protect retinal ganglion cells and increase blood flow to the optic nerve and retina as well. Left untreated, the above conditions can increase your risk for eye diseases like glaucoma.2
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“This is the time of year when people start to focus more on being healthier as we head into the summer months. There’s a lot of attention on exercise for overall health & wellness but what many people don’t know is that your eyes are affected by how well you take care of your body. Staying active doesn’t just keep our muscles strong and our hearts healthier, it also helps defend against eye diseases linked to other health issues. Regular exercise can help prevent against potential eye health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes so it’s important to maintain an active lifestyle no matter what age you are.”– Dr. Carolyn Novak, LensCrafters Optometrist (Center Valley, PA)
3. Quit smoking
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the world – killing nearly 8 million people globally each year.4 This addictive habit can hurt your eyes as much as it damages the lungs. Smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, thyroid orbitopathy and uveitis. Even the optic nerve is at risk of damage from toxins inhaled that end up in the bloodstream and become distributed throughout the body. Tobacco smoke can also affect surrounding eye tissue, resulting in puffiness under the eyes and disorders of the eyelids.3
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“Smoking increases your risk of getting certain diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and dry eye. Ceasing smoking along with a proper diet, exercise, and sun protection can decrease these risks.” – Dr. Christina Chu, LensCrafters Optometrist (New York City, New York)
4. Wear sunglasses even on cloudy days
It’s important to protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses — even on cloudy days. It’s important to know that clouds do not block UV light, and harmful sun rays can break through clouds and damage your eyes. UV radiation poses risk because it can damage the eyes surface tissue, cornea and lens. That’s why UV-blocking sunglasses can help you protect your eyes and soak up sunshine safely.4
When choosing your next pair of sunglasses, look for options that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation
Prescription sunglasses, like Essilor’s E-SUN™ RX™ lenses can provide optimal sun correction while adapting to even the most complex lens prescriptions
Transitions® lenses reduce glare, eye fatigue and painful eye strain while adapting to light levels of the surrounding environment
Ask the expert
“Few people realize the damage the sun can cause to unprotected eyes. Wearing the right pair of sunglasses can save you from a myriad of issues down the road.” – Dr. Lisa Hamilton, Independent Doctor of Optometry at Pearle Vision (Centennial, CO)
- American Academy of Ophthalmology, “36 Fabulous Foods to Boost Eye Health,” January 2020.
- National Eye Institute, “8 Things You Can So Right Now to Protect Your Vision,” April 2021.
- ICR Ophthalmology Center Barcelona, “How does smoking affect your vision?” May 2021.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology, “The Sun, UV Light and Your Eyes,” June 2020.