How To Ensure Good Eye Health, All Year Round

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Whilst we acknowledge the irony of posing this question on a screen, we’ll ask it anyway: do you feel like your eyesight has deteriorated due to the increasing amount of time you’re spending in front of screens? Well, you’re not alone. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, research from Fight for Sight, a charity devoted to eye research, has found that “38% of people in the UK who have been using screens more during lockdown believe their eyesight has been affected as a result, leading to difficulty reading, migraines and poorer night vision.”

And yes, we realise the irony of cautoning this via a screen, but, you know, needs must.

If that wasn’t enough, the pandemic also lead to cancelled or delayed routine eye appointments. What’s more, we’ve perhaps ignored any worsening of eyesight because of everything else that’s going on right now. 

But your eyesight is so important, and issues and checkups shouldn’t be ignored or put off, particularly now it seems that the UK has now returned to some semblance of normality. To ensure best optic practice, here are 6 tips for maintaining good eye health.

Book An Eye Examination

First things first, if you haven’t gone to the opticians for a while, booking an eye appointment should be a priority. Regular eye examinations at an ophthalmology clinic are instrumental in checking your vision, as well as looking for signs of any eye conditions or changes in your overall health in general. 

Did you know that your optician can identify health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and even arthritis? This is possible through the different eye tests carried out when you visit your optician, and something so routine could actually be incredibly helpful in the long run. If you’re due an eye examination, or you’ve noticed a worsening of your eyesight, make sure you book it now. 

Read: 4 Common eye conditions to be aware of 

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Take A Break From Screentime

Just look away from your screen. Now. Do it. See what the world has to offer. Didn’t things look so crisp and genuine? Yep, we all know that staring at your computer or smartphone for prolonged periods makes your eyes red, tired, sore and dry. Indeed, browsing on your tablet, mobile phone or computer requires more effort from your eyes than when looking into the distance. 

The most effective solution is also the most simple; taking regular breaks from your screen will allow you to rest your eyes. If you do wish to (or rather, have to) remain at your desk, at least shift your focus to something else other than the screen. You could use the 20-20-20 rule which recommends that you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Read: 7 ways to prevent digital eye strain

Eat A Healthy Diet

Our eyes are vascular, which means it’s important to have a heart-healthy diet to keep the blood vessels that service our eyes healthy. Foods high in saturated fat and sugar can increase your risk of certain eye diseases, but on the flip side, good nutrition can help delay or prevent a range of issues with vision and overall eye health.

Eating a healthy balanced diet, full of all the good stuff like fruit, vegetables, high-fibre foods and unsaturated oils, is absolutely essential to preserve and look after your vision.

Certain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. To get these nutrients, fill your plate with green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, oily fish such as salmon and tuna, non-meat protein sources like beans and nuts, and citrus fruits.

Drink Water

When your body is dehydrated, so are your tear ducts – which could result in dry eyes, problems with your vision and your overall eye health.

Healthline explains that “The ocular surface requires lubrication to function properly and be comfortable. If your eyes are dry, it can affect both visual function and comfort.” 

They go on to explain that “The most critical component of the tear film is the aqueous layer, which is composed mostly of water”. Yep, you guessed it – if your body is dehydrated, then that all-important aqueous layer may be deficient.  

So, endeavour to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Experts recommend we should drink around 8 glasses a day, which is equivalent to 1.5 litres. Or, two and a half pints, if that’s easier to visualise. Bottoms up!

Quit Smoking

If you’re a smoker, you’re at a higher risk of developing conditions that can affect eye health such as cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration. Quitting smoking will significantly reduce these risks and contribute towards maintaining good eye health.

Wear Sunglasses All Year Round

Sunglasses indoors, par for the course…

We all know that we should be wearing our sunnies with built-in UV protection during the summer months, but in reality, too much sunlight is a threat to our eyes at any time of year.

Though we love cool shades that make a style statement, do remember that the number one job of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from sun damage. Check the label of your sunglasses before purchase to understand the level of UV protection offered – to stay safe from the sun, always go for 100% UVA & UVB ray protection. The NHS recommends looking for glasses carrying the CE mark or the British Standard BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013, which ensures they offer a safe level of ultraviolet protection.

Ophthalmologists and optometrists (that’s eye doctors to you and me) all agree that the bigger your sunglasses, the better. This is because the larger and wider the lenses and frames of your sunglasses, the more protection they offer against UV light.

Overexposure to this type of light increases the risk of cataracts and other eye conditions. What’s more, the skin around the eye is a hot spot for small cancers to develop and bigger sunglasses cover up this area, offering more protection.

Look After Your Contacts

Wearing your contact lenses for longer than advised or for longer than your eyes feel comfortable can lead to issues including irritation, burning sensation, grittiness, dry eye and watery red eye.

Get into good habits when looking after your lenses to ensure they’re keeping your eyes from drying out. Always wash your hands when inserting or removing your lenses, don’t shower in your lenses, or wear the lenses beyond their lifespan.

Regular Exercise & Adequate Sleep

More all-compassing and holistic, we realise, but regular exercise is essential for overall physical health and well-being, including your eyes. It can help prevent conditions that may lead to vision problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Our eyes, like the rest of our body, need sufficient rest to function correctly. An adequate amount of sleep ensures your eyes are well-rested and free from strain, allowing them to perform at their peak.

We hope you can see clearly now the importance of eye health. 

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