Eye health is not often a foremost concern for the health conscious. As organs go, our eyes are amongst those we take the most for granted – until something starts to go wrong and then all hell can break loose. Many eye conditions are preventable or mitigable, so what approaches can you take to improve your eye health in general?
According to the UK government, smoking is the leading cause of preventable and premature death in the UK. Its effects are wide-ranging, being responsible for the development of various cancers and conditions – but in the medium term, smoking has also been linked to age-related macular degeneration, often referred to as AMD.
AMD largely affects the central part of your vision and can either come on over a period of years or weeks. If you smoke, you are more likely to experience this vision loss in your middle age. As such, cutting out cigarettes can preserve your eye health for the future. If this seems like an impossible task, then just reducing the number you smoke a day can be a step in the right direction.
Wear Eyewear Safely
Many people rely on contact lenses for their eyesight. Contact lenses are incredibly useful items of eyewear, that can preserve your eye health as well as improve your quality of life; by wearing the correct prescription, eye strain from trying to focus is reduced.
But contact lenses can also pose a health risk to your eyes if not managed correctly. For example, leaving lenses in for too long can contribute to dryness and irritation. It is recommended that you remove your contact lenses if your eyes start to feel dry.
Failure to properly clean your contact lenses before use can also increase the risk of eye infection.
Making sure to clean them properly after taking part in an activity such as swimming is also vital to maintain the health of your eyes.
Watch for Eye Strain
Eye strain has been mentioned once already, with regard to those with poorer eyesight straining to rein in their vision without proper eyewear. However, there are other eye stressors with which we engage on a daily basis, that can pose a short-term risk to eye health. Long periods of time driving or staring at computer screens can contribute to eye strain; a simple solution is to take regular breaks and allow your eyes to defocus.
Eat and Drink Healthily
Your diet can have a strong impact on your overall eye health, especially when it comes to the development of disease with eye-related symptoms and side-effects. For example, a healthy diet can reduce your diabetes risk, in turn reducing the likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy. Vitamins and minerals are key to eye health; fruit and vegetables are a must, while oily fish rich in omega-3 can help stave off age-related eye degeneration.
Of course, your eye health is rooted not just in what you eat, but also what you avoid. Excessive alcohol intake, for example, can have a dehydrating effect – which can lead to papery eyelids, irritated eyes and increased difficulty wearing contact lenses.
It might seem surprising, but eating a Mediterranean diet is not only good for your general wellbeing but also a great way to improve your eye health.