Your eyes are a crucial part of your overall health. However, it is often not until you have a problem or notice a change in your vision that we do anything about it.
In this article, we take a look at common eye issues, why it is important to care for your eyes, the importance of regular check ups and some recommendations to help keep your eyes healthy.
- Common vision problems
- The importance of regular eye tests
- Eye care recommendations
1. Common vision problems
The most common vision problems are generally related to aging.
Myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances) and presbyopia (loss of the ability to focus up close) are all common age related issues. Generally, these can all be corrected through the right prescription glasses, contact lenses, and, in some cases, eye surgery.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is another eye health issue that is more common with age and damages sight in the center of vision.
Other additional eye problems include cataracts, optic nerve disorders, retinal disorders and diabetic eye problems.
2. The importance of regular eye tests
Regular eye tests are crucially important as your eyes will not hurt when there is a problem.
The NHS recommends that you have an eye test every two years (1). Further to this, should you notice any change in your vision, you should visit an optician or your GP for a check-up.
An eye examination will identify if you need glasses or a change to your prescription. An optician may also spot early signs of any issues with the health of your eyes like cataracts or age-related macular degeneration.
Additionally, an eye check can spot many more general health problems where early signs show in the eyes.
Whether you identify problems with your eyes or with your health in general an eye test can help you spot these issues early and start a treatment program.
3. Eye Care Recommendations
Looking after your eyes has much in common with looking after your health in general. The following suggestions will help ensure your eyes age as well as possible.
Give up smoking
Age-related macular degeneration and cataracts are the most common causes of sight loss in the UK and it is far more likely if you are a smoker.
Protect your eyes from the sun
Looking directly at the sun can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight and in extreme cases can cause blindness. Sunlight is also a known risk factor for cataracts (1).
To protect your eyes from UV rays avoid looking directly at the sun and wear sunglasses that offer a safe level of protection from ultraviolet light.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a balanced, healthy diet is key to keeping your eyes healthy as you age and reducing your risk for eye conditions. A diet that is rich in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants will help keep your eyes in good shape as you age.
Some primary nutrients that support eye health are:
- Vitamins A, C & E
- Omega-3 fats
You should focus on a healthy, whole foods based diet that includes these nutrients.
Some foods to include in your diet that support eye health are:
- Oily fish – salmon, mackerel etc
- Eggs – egg yolks are rich in eye-healthy nutrients
- Almonds – rich in vitamin E to prevent AMD & cataracts
- Dairy – a good source of vitamin A and zinc
- Carrots – just like your mother told you, carrots are good for seeing (in the dark)
- Kale – rich in many vitamins and minerals including lutein
- Oranges – rich in vitamin C
Maintain a healthy weight
Diabetes is a risk factor in many eye diseases. By maintaining a healthy weight you can reduce your risk of diabetes and reduce your risk of vision problems.
Take a break
In the modern world, where we spend much of our day staring at a computer screen or mobile device, it is important to give your eyes a regular break. You should look away from your screen every 20 minutes or so and ensure you spend time away from the screen. A useful tip here is the 20-20-20 rule where every 20 minutes you take a break and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds (2).
Your eye health is impacted by your lifestyle and health issues, along with aging, can impact eyesight over time. If you follow this simple advice here you will improve your general health and look after your eyes at the same time.