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Easy On The Eye: 9 Tips for Maintaining Good Eyesight

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 12, 2022.

Have An Eye Check Every One To Two Years

When was the last time you had your eyes properly checked?

The unfortunate thing about many eye problems is that they rarely cause symptoms until significant damage has been done. A licensed optometrist is a eye doctor who provides basic vision care. They will do a vision check and use a special light to examine the internal structure of your eye which allows them to detect eye structure changes early (such as glaucoma) that might rob your vision. They can prescribe vision corrections too, like glasses or contacts. Many retail stores like Wal-Mart or Target have their own vision center, or you can find a private optometrist in your home town.

How Safe Are Your Sunglasses?

Although standards for sunglasses do exist in the U.S., they are voluntary. This means those sleek, ultra-tinted glasses may not be protecting your eyes one bit. In fact, badly made sunglasses can actually cause more damage to your eye. They fool your eye into thinking it is dark, opening up the pupil, and allowing more light to cause damage to the back of the eye.

Choose sunglasses with lenses that have at least one of these details:

  • Block 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays
  • Meet the U.S. standard for sunglasses (ANSI Z80. 3-2018)
  • or state they provide UV 400 protection.

All sunglasses (including toy sunglasses that can be worn as fashion sunglasses) must also meet the FDA standard 21 CFR 801.410 for impact resistance.

Limit Exposure to Blue Light

In 2019, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) issued a 400-page report detailing the effects of LED (light-emitting diodes) lights and warning the public of the damage long-term exposure to blue light can do to both our retinas and our sleep patterns.

Blue light is one of the colors we can see on the visible light spectrum and it has relatively short wavelengths of between 380 and 500nm. This means it contains more energy than, for example, red rays at the other end of the spectrum which are a longer wavelength. Blue light is also referred to as high-energy visible light.

This type of light affects our eyesight because it can pass through the cornea at the front of the eye and reach the retina at the back of the eye, and produce negative eye health consequences, such as digital vision syndrome, melatonin suppression, or long-term retinal effectson the retina that could increas the risk of a person developing age-related macular degeneration or cataracts.

LED lights are a popular choice of lighting because they are much more energy efficient than traditional lighting sources. They are also used in most electronic devices, children's toys, torches, and in car headlights. In the past decade, our exposure to blue light has increased dramatically, particularly in the evenings when we are more likely to be exposed to artificial lighting or screens rich in blue light. To minimize your exposure to blue light always:

  • Choose LED lights that are "warm white" rather than "cool white" because they emit less blue light
  • Limit children's exposure to LEDs. The crystalline lenses in their eyes are less developed than adults which means blue light is more likely to cause damage to the cells of the retina
  • Avoid using phones, tablets, and laptops in a dark environment. Although these devices have a low luminosity compared to other LED sources, they can still disturb sleep patterns
  • Consider using anti-blue light filters and sunglasses and taking a supplement to protect against the effects of blue-light.

In addition, LED lights that have a stroboscopic effect (flash on and off) have been associated with headaches, visual fatigue and a higher risk of accidents.

Eyesafe, formerly known as Healthe, is an American technology and research company that have developed standards based on ANSI Z80.3 and Z87.1 to help protect users from blue light emitted from digital devices such as smartphones, laptops, computer monitors, televisions, and virtual reality headsets.

Eat Up All Your Greens

Next time you toss together a kale salad or steam those collard greens, you can pat yourself on the back for being kind to your eyes.

Dark green leafy vegetables are a rich source of the antioxidant lutein. This antioxidant is also found in other yellow or orange foods (such as carrots) in smaller amounts. Lutein helps protect cells from UV light and oxygen.

Research has shown people who eat a diet high in lutein are at lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and may be less likely to develop cataracts.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Liquid Gold For Your Eyes

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as salmon and sardines and widely available as supplements.

They reduce inflammation and researchers have found beneficial preventive effects for dry eye and potentially age-related macular degeneration (AMD). They are also available by prescription to help lower high triglyceride levels, which can be linked to heart disease and pancreatitis.

But before you rush out to the nearest drugstore and stock up, check with your doctor. Omega-3 fatty acids can cause bleeding problems in people already taking anticoagulants such as warfarin, if you use NSAIDs, or if you take too high a dose.

An Eye-Friendly Workstation

Do your eyes feel tired or dry or look red at the end of the day? Computer-related vision problems are common in people whose jobs require them to stare at computer screens most of their day, but you can help your eyes out.

Adjust your brightness of your screen to match the brightness of your surrounds. Install a glare protector and adjust your screen height and distance so you don't have to strain. Blink more often and every 20 minutes look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break. Take frequent 5 minute breaks away from your screen to fully rest your eyes.

Be Careful What You Put In Your Eyes

Do you have an array of eye drop bottles in your bathroom cabinet? Although it's fine to use eye drops occasionally to combat redness or soothe dry eyes, it's important not to overuse them, especially if they have been self-prescribed.

Visit your eye doctor if your eye problem has not gone away after two to three days of eye drop use. Also check the use-by date of the eye drops you are using. Most eye drops have a limited expiry date of one month and should not be used after this time.

Safety Glasses Protect Your Eyes From Flying Objects

There are plenty of potentially eye-damaging objects around your home that warrant your own pair of safety glasses.

Stones, sticks, and small lego bricks become eye piercing missiles when run over with the lawn mower. Glass wool insulation and paint fumes contain particles so fine you can't see them until they start to irritate your eye.

You wouldn't be able to do half the things you do without your eyes. Don't forget them and eye protection when it comes to safety.

Your Eyes Are A Reflection Of Your Lifestyle

Our eyes give away more about ourselves than we realize. Nothing screams "I've been partying all night!" than red, droopy-looking eyes with bags under them.

Our eyes are affected by alcohol, smoke and what we eat. Even exercise benefits your eyes.

Eat green and purple-colored fruits and vegetables (such as spinach, kale, blueberries, blackberries and grapes) which contain eye-protecting antioxidants. Limit your alcohol intake and do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Aim to give your eyes a long and happy life!

Finished: Easy On The Eye - 9 Tips for Maintaining Good Eyesight

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