Our eyes provide us with the most convincing contact with our environment. Vision is the most valuable of our senses, and its damage or loss significantly limits quality of life, so we must protect our eyes. Regardless of whether you may already wear contact lenses or glasses, certain things further contribute to the deterioration of your diopters and overall eye health. To maintain healthy eyes, it is necessary to eat food rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as to visit an ophthalmologist regularly.
What does the eye look like, and how does it work?
The human eye is a very specific organ. Its functional part is the lens, which enables light rays passing through the cornea to fall properly on the retina. These changes affect the structures of the retina, and the stimulus is transmitted further to the brain. If the optical system of the eye functions properly, the light rays are refracted precisely to the retina, and the result is a sharp image of the object. If it doesn’t function properly, however, light rays are refracted in front of or behind the retina, and the result is blurred vision. Dioptric eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery are used to correct such refractive errors.
The lens of the eye is very sensitive and has an unusual structure. Unlike other parts of the body, it does not contain blood capillaries to supply it with nutrients. Because of this, it has a very limited ability to regenerate. Other parts of the body quickly remove damaged cells and unwanted molecules, but the lens of the eye has this ability only in young people. In old age, it is very sensitive to various negative effects, and such a condition can lead to damage.
What threatens our eyes?
We can reduce some negative impacts by making changes to our daily habits. Among the biggest “enemies” that threaten our eyes are as follows:
UV radiation. We have to protect our eyes with UV polarized sunglasses1. Constant exposure to strong sunlight will not only cause wrinkles: UV rays can irreversibly impact the eye's lens and retina. You can take a look at our MIRA polarized sunglasses that block 100% of ultraviolet rays and are very comfortable and adjustable for everyone.Low-quality diet. Food has a significant effect on all organs in the body, including the eyes. It is important to eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals2. Particularly important are omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc, which prevent the appearance of cataracts that lead to impaired vision. These vitamins are found in green vegetables such as spinach and kale; in fish such as tuna and salmon; and in eggs, nuts, citrus fruits, and beans. On the other hand, vitamin A is important because its deficiency causes blindness and dry eyes. This vitamin is found in dairy products, egg yolks, and liver.
Excessive eye strain. Reading under inadequate light and spending hours in front of your favorite digital device can cause eye strain, headaches, and poor concentration and focus3. If you are overexposed to a computer, TV, tablet, or phone screen, you can buy blue light blocking glasses with a protective layer that will help you complete your tasks without discomfort. Such screens emit blue light, which may damage your vision, which is why blue light glasses can prevent further vision changes. Also, don’t sit too close to the screen, position it at eye level, and take occasional breaks, and look away every twenty minutes or so.
Can nutrition affect the health of our eyes?
An appropriate and balanced intake of certain eye antioxidants, vitamins, carotenoids, and minerals can play an important role in eye health. They must be taken in through food because the body itself is not able to "produce" them. Multivitamin tablets with minerals can also be a useful source. Vitamins are necessary for good vision and for maintaining the health of our eyes, from childhood to adulthood. Some of them :
Lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are strong antioxidants4 that protect both eyes and skin. These anti-inflammatory, carotenoid phytonutrients are found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, egg yolks, vegetables, and fruit, particularly citrous fruit such as oranges. There are different types of carotenoids found in nature, but only about twenty make their way into the eyes. In the human body, both lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the macula, the central part of the retina. Due to their antioxidant function, they limit retinal oxidative damage by absorbing blue light, so they help prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C isn’t an antioxidant that only fights colds: it also helps our cells and tissues fight free radicals5, helping maximize the absorption of minerals and nutrients. This essential vitamin helps repair damaged tissue, slows inflammatory reactions, prevents cell mutations, and more.
Vitamin E. Vitamins E, A, and C work as a group, because they are antioxidants that protect cells and tissues from inflammation. These antioxidants reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Consuming them together can improve vision in people undergoing surgery for eye disease.Vitamin A (beta carotene). An adequate amount of vitamin A is key to protection against xerophthalmia and night blindness6. Vitamin A is an antioxidant and has been shown to prevent vision loss caused by degenerative conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin
A, together with other antioxidants, helps to slow down the progression of neuropathy (nerve damage), including diabetic neuropathy.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have tremendous benefits for dozens of different health conditions because of their anti-inflammatory properties and can slow the effects of aging7. Fish is an excellent choice of omega-3 fatty acids. They are so powerful in protecting tissues that they are usually given to people with chronic tissue damage such as that caused by arthritis and heart disease. Omega-3 stabilizes blood sugar levels, which reduces inflammatory reactions, helps fight eye damage caused by diabetes, improves circulation, and helps prevent cells from mutating.
How to recognize eye problems
If you have eye problems, many different symptoms can occur. The most common problems are conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye), then allergies, cataracts, and glaucoma. Some of the possible symptoms of eye problems are:
- red eyes;
- dry eyes;
- blurred vision;
- watery eyes;
- loss of vision, etc.
To maintain good eye health and change bad habits that may affect your vision, you can follow the tips below:
- When you work on a computer, follow the "20-20-20" rule8. For every twenty minutes staring at a screen, take a twenty-second break by looking at an object twenty feet away. This will give your eyes the break they need and avoid fatigue.
- Don't avoid eye exams. Most people don’t go to regular eye examinations, using various excuses such as "I used to have vision problems but now everything is fine," or "I see like a hawk, I don't need an eye exam." The truth is that good eyesight is not only about your ability to read and see the road, traffic signs, and nature around you. You may have an eye problem without being aware of it. Therefore, next time, do not avoid an examination at the ophthalmologist but instead ask for his or her expert opinion.
- Wash your hands regularly to avoid eye infections. When the hands come into contact with an unclean object, they become carriers of bacteria. In contact with the eye, they can easily cause an infection. People that use contact lenses are a risk group due to the frequent contact of hands with eyes. If you belong to this group, it is extremely important to wash your hands before putting in and taking out the lenses.
- Never use old or other people's eye makeup. Eye makeup doesn't last forever. Even though the eyeshadow looks good even after 2–3 years, it doesn't mean that it is wise to use it. Mascara is even more problematic and it is not recommended that you use it after six months after opening. If you notice a change in the texture or smell of your makeup, you should get rid of it as soon as possible.
- Be aware of the light and reading distance while reading. Maybe you have experienced headache or tiredness while reading a book. The most common reason for this is eye strain caused by insufficient light in the room or the incorrect distance between your eyes and the book. When reading, the book should be about fifteen to twenty-five inches away from your eyes9. The closer it is, the harder it is for the eyes to focus on the text. Read in a well-lit room but not with the light source directly in your face.
- Quit smoking to reduce your risk of eye disease. Smoking harms vision, increasing the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and damage to the optic nerve.
- Get seven or eight hours of quality sleep. Your eyes, like the rest of your body, need rest too. Insufficient sleep can easily lead to eye fatigue and headaches, and to poor concentration and focus to complete your daily tasks.
Many people take eye health for granted and do not go for regular check-ups, leaving it until it is too late sometimes. Certain symptoms, such as blurred vision, pain, redness, and irritation, should not be ignored, as they may be a sign of an eye disease. First of all, it is important to pay more attention to your eyes and diet, protecting them with sunglasses or, if necessary, wearing blue light glasses. When a problem first appears, it is recommended to visit an ophthalmologist.
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