For most people, vision is the primary sense. It’s the most efficient way we take in information about our surroundings and it gives us the clearest indication of what is happening in most situations. It is possible to live a wonderful life without the use of our eyes, but making the adjustment from sighted to partially-sighted or sightless can be a challenge. That’s why the best thing to do is ensure you never have to make that transition by taking good care of your eyes. Taking steps to prevent vision loss is easy and doesn’t require making huge lifestyle changes, unless you make your living pulling trucks around by your eye sockets. We’ve compiled a list of some things to think about when considering your eye health, with information from from The Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
8) Wear sunglasses
You don’t have to be a vampire to know that too much sunlight hurts. Ultraviolet radiation can do permanent damage to your eyes so make sure to wear your shades, even when it’s not summertime and even when the sky is cloudy. Direct sunlight is most harmful but glare off of sidewalks, snow, and clouds can do damage too. Blue eyed people are more photosensitive and likely to develop vision problems as they progress through life, so these individuals should be extra careful. Choose a pair of sunglasses that has at least 98% UV protection and be sure the lenses are large enough to block out all of the light from the front and at least some from the sides.
7) Vitamin A
When you were a kid and adults told you that eating carrots gives you superhero night vision, they weren’t kidding. Well, except for the superhero part, but vitamin A does help you to see in low light. The retina uses vitamin A to function, and getting enough vitamin A can reduce your risk of getting cataracts. Vitamin A can be found in vegetables and fruits that contain carotinoids, the pigments that give red, yellow, and orange plants their colour. The famous beta-carotene found in carrots is a carotiniod. Other good plant sources of vitamin A include bell peppers, yellow squash, and dark leafy greens like spinach and leaf lettuce. Vitamin A is also abundant in animal products, especially red meat and dairy. In fact, most milk is now fortified with extra vitamin A.
6) Vitamin E
Vitamin E can slow the process of age related vision loss and it may even help prevent cataracts. Leafy greens are a good source of vitamin E as well as nuts, non-hydrogenated vegetable oils like olive and sesame, and seafood. Vitamin E is fat soluble so be sure to get enough healthy fats in your diet to ensure your vitamin E is absorbed. Vitamins play an important role in eye health. If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough from your diet, consider taking a supplement.
5) Get regular eye checkups
Don’t wait until you’re already seeing (or not seeing) problems with your vision. Get your eyes checked at least once a year by a licensed optometrist. They can tell you how good your eyesight is, check for problems that are not noticeable in the early stages, and give you more information about how to best take care of your eyes.
To get the benefits of antioxidants, your body has to absorb them. The mineral selenium helps with that process allowing all the antioxidants on this list to do their work. Get selenium from mushrooms, whole grains, chia seeds, cheese, liver, poultry, and many kinds of nuts.
Zinc is another important mineral that aids in the absorption of antioxidants. Zinc is abundant in bran cereals, oysters, milk and yogurt, most common meats, pumpkin seeds, soy, chickpeas, shellfish, and lentils. With the exception of cabbage, there aren’t a whole lot of common vegetables that contain zinc, so be sure to eat a balanced diet that includes whole grains and meat or other protein sources like nuts and seeds.
2) Quit smoking
At this point it kind of goes without saying that no matter what aspect of your health you are trying to watch be it cardiovascular, oral, or in this case vision, quitting smoking will help. Is smoking cigarettes good for anything? No. The answer is no. Smokers are three times more likely to develop Age Related Macular Degeneration. Add that to the ever-growing list of reasons to quit smoking.
1) Be aware of the diabetes factor
Vision loss can be a symptom of diabetic retinopathy. If you have type one or type two diabetes be sure to monitor your blood sugars and insulin levels carefully and don’t miss your meds. If you don’t have type two diabetes, take preventative steps to make sure you never get it. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and don’t have too much sugar.
Your eyes take in a library’s worth of information every second. Take care of them and they will see you through!
With thanks to the CNIB