Your eyes are two of your most precious possessions but what are the chances that you take them for granted? Pretty good I suspect but next time you go for a walk, run, ride, drive or just plain sitting in your arm chair, consider what you are seeing at that moment and what it would be like if you couldn’t see.
If your sight was [suddenly] taken from you – how would you cope? Try shutting your eyes to get a taste of that world. Better still – do it one day in your home – walk from one room to the next with your eyes shut.
One statistic I came across estimated that 50,000 people lose their sight needlessly every year and that 80 million Americans are at risk of eye diseases that can lead to low vision and even blindness.
The good news is that you don’t need to become part of that statistic. The most common diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye disease, are all preventable to some extent.
Bar for televisions which seem to get bigger everything else gets smaller, everything in our day-to-day lives seems to have “shrunk”
Irrespective of whether the TV screen is bigger, better and images become more life like with the advent of 3D pictures, we’re using our eyes to stare at these images for long periods of time. Probably more than we should but that’s another discussion.
Daily, whether part of our job function or social habits, we’re also looking at texts, mails, mobile apps, computer screens, e-readers such as the Kindle, and the list goes on. It’s little surprise then that our eyes become fatigued leading to so called, age-related eye problems.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. We can take care of our eyes and do something painlessly and quite naturally to circumvent this problem that’s pervasive in today’s society.
Here are a few steps that I managed to research to help you keep your eyesight sharp and your eyes healthy.
Something to consider very seriously is that if you smoke, then you should make a determined effort to stop. There are a whole lot of other reasons why you should stop which we won’t go into here, but smoking itself increases your risk of cataracts, glaucoma, dry eyes, and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking then is really working against what we’re prescribing here. A bit like drying a car in the rain.
Eat Right for Sharp Sight
Just as we need to feed our body with the right kind of food and nutrients to keep it healthy as well as feeling healthy too, we should also feed our eyes. That’s right – eat right for your eyesight. There are a whole lot of foods that are rich in the right kind of nutrients to specifically nourish your eyes. Check these out for size:
- Vitamins A, C and E
- Lutein (spinach) – may prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts – have with olive oil for optimum absorption
- Quercetin (red onions) –thought to protect against cataracts
- Minerals like copper and zinc
- Antioxidants are a big one. This one’s easy to shop for because if a long list of veges to buy isn’t appealing, just shop by color.
All things yellow and green…
When you’re next down at your green grocer, look for all things yellow and green. Okay, so that doesn’t sound like it narrows it down much but your yellow list is things such as yellow peppers (capsicums), pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Just one extra to add to that is egg yolks – sorry that one you’ll just have to remember by name rather than color because you’re not going to see an egg yolk in the store.
Your green list, ideally, are those dark green veges such as spinach (I prefer baby spinach but that’s personal preference because I prefer the taste and I can eat it raw), broccoli (excellent all rounder this one – definitely add this to your list), kale and various other dark green leafy veges. All good!!
This mix will help prevent age-related macular generation, which in itself is a leading cause of blindness.
Some flavorsome options…
Foods that protect your lens and therefore help prevent cataracts are things like garlic, onions, shallots, and capers. More flavors to add to your plate. Yum. If you must know why, it’s because these foods are rich in sulfur, cysteine, and lecithin.
Juicy Fruit options…
Let’s not forget the fruits that are good for our eyes. Blueberries, grapes, and goji berries are rich in something called anthocyanin which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve your vision.
Blueberries are actually one of the richest fruit forms of antioxidants. Suggestion: mix a cup of blueberries with your yoghurt for breakfast. After you’ve had your yoghurt, spread bilberry jam on a slice of toast. These berries also contain compounds which may protect the retina against macular degeneration.
You could take a bilberry supplement instead but why not enjoy a lovely slice of toast and coffee knowing that you’re getting all those good compounds naturally and on top of that, they’re all fighting in your corner.
Then there are all those omega-3 fatty acids that are found naturally in coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, and cod. These “good fats” provide structural support to cell membranes. Go fishing my friend!
Exercise Your Eyes
Sounds crazy doesn’t it! Like we can take our eyes for a jog or cycle. Well, as crazy as it sounds, exercise is good for both body and eye health. Think about it, our eyes have muscles and they too need to be exercised to stay fit and healthy.
Some evidence suggests that regular exercise can reduce the pressure inside the eye (intraocular) in people with glaucoma. So beneficial is this that in one study, glaucoma patients who walked briskly four times per week for 40 minutes lowered their intraocular pressure enough so they could stop taking medication for their condition. How good is that!!
Conversely, without exercise, our bodies atrophy, our muscle tone and strength diminishes all contributing to a weak body. Similarly, as our active lifestyles diminish so too do our eyes get lazy and weak if we don’t exercise them.
As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, our vision is pretty limited to looking close-up and/or staring at screens (movies and TV). There is very little getting outdoors, looking near and far, over there and over here, up there and down here. Get the picture – our eyes used to move all over the place as kids. Now, they’re pretty stationary and focused – close up!!
Luckily, there are some very simple exercises that you can do that will help you maintain optimal vision and may also keep those annoying eye floaters at bay.
(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Quick and Easy exercise routine:
When you have 5 minutes (especially in the morning) sit down, relax and do these simple exercises.
Move your eyes from side to side, up and down, zig zag, circle, square, all for about 5 min.
It’s as simple as that – you’re done! The catch – do it every day!
The Little Bit More than Quick and Easy routine:
If you have a little extra time and you’re looking for that little bit of extra “effort”…. that’s on your part – not like a boot camp for eyes kind of effort J
Once again, first thing in the morning is a good time but you can also do these before bedtime, or any time your eyes feel fatigued.
Commit to daily practice and you may just see better results within one month.
Before starting, make sure that your hands are clean (you’re going near your eyes with your hands) and that your mood is relaxed…
This is kinda like our stretching routine before exercise. Warm your eyes by rubbing your hands (palms) together until they are warm. Once warm, place them against your eyes for five seconds.
Repeat this three times.
Roll your eyes…
No, not like you’re annoyed at someone
Find a starting point – I like to look up (avoids that left-right confusion for many J ), so look up (starting point) then slowly circle your eyes clockwise 10 times followed by 10 circles anticlockwise (circle them one way 10 times and then the other way 10 times J )
Hold something that you’re able to focus on at arm’s length (e.g. a pencil). Focus your eyes on it, and slowly bring the pencil closer until it’s about 3-6 inches away from your nose (you’ll start squinting). Then slowly move it back. That’s 1. Do this 10 times focusing on the object in your hand all the time.
Relaxation (post exercise stretching in gym speak)
Three (3) different massaging techniques to be done 20 times in one direction and 20 in the other:
- Start off massaging your temples using the tip your index finger applying pressure against your temples in small circles – 20 times in both directions.
- Using the same technique, repeat massaging above the mid-point of the eyebrows on the forehead. Once again, 20 times in both directions.
- Same again this time massaging below the eyes on both sides of the bridge of the nose – 20 times in both directions.
Finally, the best part – put your head back, close your eyes, and relax for 3 minutes.
Workout complete and you’ll find your eyes feeling refreshed and relaxed. That relaxation piece will also be useful if you have a tension headache. Good pressure points to massage there!
Give Your Eyes Good Rest
Your body and eyes really do work together here and so getting enough sleep is essential for your body muscle health AND your eye health.
Specific to your eyes, sleep allows them to fully rest, repair, and recover. Have you ever been deprived of sleep due to a late night out, burning the midnight oil studying, reading etc? I’m sure we all have done it at least once in our lives J
Did you notice how your eyes hurt the next day. They felt “burny” or gritty. You would almost certainly have felt eye-strain. Whatever you felt the next day, the effects are the same – it weakens your vision.
This is what insufficient sleep does for your eyes, so ideally, shoot for 8 hours of sound sleep a night to give them good rest and recovery time.
During your workday…
Give your eyes a break once an hour during your workday:
There are various recommendations for this. A good guide is to rest your eyes 5 minutes for every 55 minutes spent reading or in front of the computer. Others say 10 minutes for every 50 but you get the picture – every hour, incorporate some time away from what you’re doing.
If your eyes feel overly tired, a really good way to relax and restore them is to lie down and place cooling cucumber slices over your eyelids. Alternatively, you do get cucumber [cotton] eye-pads or eye gel pads which you can leave in the fridge and when needed, can be applied to the eyes in the same way as the cucumber slices. Very soothing and restorative in nature.
I hope you have found this article interesting and stimulating. If nothing else I hope it’s given you food for thought (or your eyes) and that you’d perhaps try a few of the suggestions.
Someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle probably knows that it’s good to eat healthily and exercise but unless they get off their proverbial butt and try it, they’ll never KNOW and more importantly EXPERIENCE the benefits.
The same can be said with respect to our eyesight. We may/may not have known a lot of the information presented but unless we apply the suggestions, well, there’s always the statistic list to join.