Nurturing Clear Vision: Natural Tips for Optimal Eye Health
Sight is one of the most important senses of most living beings. It allows us to carry out actions ranging from reading and observing beautiful moments to exploring the world.
Therefore, eye health should not be taken for granted! You should take special care of it while considering your needs and health.
What are some common eye problems you can prevent?
Dry eyes result from a lack of tears or increased evaporation of tears, which usually keeps the eye hydrated, wet, and free of infection. Tear thinning can be due to a few factors that can be difficult to avoid, such as underlying medical conditions, aging, use of certain medications, or eye medical procedures.
Symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Eye redness
- Stringy mucus in the eyes
- Light sensitivity
- A scratchy sensation in the eyes
- Watery eyes, blurry vision, or eye fatigue
- Feeling like there is something in your eye
The best way to prevent dry eyes is to avoid being in spaces exposed to wind, smoke, or dry air in large quantities, which could lead to increased tear evaporation. Try wearing sunglasses on dry, windy days.
Not blinking your eyes enough can also dry them out. When performing actions that require concentration, such as reading, driving, or working on a computer, the eyes tend to blink less, drying out. Try to take short breaks to rest your eyes. If it still doesn't work, using products like eye drops is a good preventive solution. Research shows that vitamin A drops significantly improve dry eye symptoms.
While dry eyes may not seem like a big problem, it can lead to serious conditions like eye damage or infections.
Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the outer part of the eye swells or becomes irritated, reacting to substances that trigger allergies, such as dandruff, pollen, or dust.
These allergic substances release a chemical called "histamine", swelling the blood vessels in the eye's outer layer, and causing allergic conjunctivitis. As a symptom, the eyes may become red, itchy, and tear more than normal. Other symptoms of conjunctivitis can be:
- Burning eyes
- Swollen eyelids that are difficult to open, especially when waking up
- Sticky, green discharge from eyes
- Enlarged blood vessels in the outer layer of the eye
The best way to prevent allergic conjunctivitis is to avoid exposure to substances that trigger your symptoms. For example, a day with high pollen levels in the air is a day to be extra careful. But in what way? In addition to eye drops, which help prevent allergic conjunctivitis in people prone to allergic reactions, antihistamines can also be useful in prevention.
In any case, if conjunctivitis recurs, you should contact your doctor.
Age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is an extremely common eye condition, especially in people aged 50 and older. The progression of age will damage the back of the eye, leading to problems seeing objects that are close to the eye.
As this condition progresses, progressive vision loss will occur, starting with small blurred areas in the center of vision, which will spread out. While it cannot cause complete blindness by itself, progressive age-related degeneration can interfere with a person's ability to live everyday life as they once did.
In addition, it’s important to remember that there are people more prone to macular degeneration than others: people who smoke and people with a family history of the disease are at greater risk.
How to prevent it? Research has found connections between age-related macular degeneration and some less healthy lifestyle choices. Small decisions can lower the risk of suffering from this condition, such as:
- No smoking (also avoiding secondhand smoke)
- Practicing regular physical exercise
- Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control and within normal parameters
- Maintain a healthy diet rich in vitamins and nutrients
Glaucoma is a collection of eye conditions that lead to damage to the optic nerve, allowing you to have good, clear vision. This damage is usually the result of ocular hypertension.
With progression and as time passes, glaucoma can lead to non-reversible blindness.
As already mentioned, glaucoma can be caused by high eye pressure but also by factors such as hereditary, diabetes, eye injuries, or lack of physical exercise, which leads to other problems.
Some of the symptoms of glaucoma can be:
- Difficulty seeing in certain spots, such as in a peripheral or central vision, usually in both eyes
- Severe headaches
- Pain and burning in the eyes
- Blurry or cloudy vision
- Small bothersome reflections (“halos”) when looking at light
- Red eyes
Although not all cases of glaucoma can be treated due to uncontrollable causes like hereditary causes, some measures can be taken to prevent it from worsening.
The earlier it’s diagnosed, the easier the treatment. Having said that, carrying out regular medical examinations through recurring eye care is important, especially if you suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure.
In addition, practicing regular physical activity and maintaining a good diet leads to improved overall health, which is also of interest in eye health.
Finally, when working with power tools or playing sports that could be dangerous for your eyes, don't forget to wear protective goggles.
Cataracts are a condition that affects the clear lens of the eye, causing blurred and cloudy vision. That is, a person suffering from cataracts has difficulty focusing their vision, seeing through fogged-up lenses, almost as if they were always looking through a precisely foggy or damp window, which distorts their vision. This vision distortion can affect moments as simple as reading, driving (especially at night), or seeing a loved one's facial expression.
Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs. Some signs and symptoms of cataracts include:
- Clouded, blurred, or dim vision
- Increasing difficulty with vision at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
- Seeing "halos" around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Double vision in a single eye
Although at first cataracts develop slowly, not disturbing your vision so quickly, in the long term, it will eventually interfere with your vision.
Several eye diseases can be developed or inherited, although not all of them are listed here.
However, although most people's vision becomes more difficult over the years, it is possible to delay and prevent bad vision. Following, we tell you how!
Small changes that can prevent eye problems and improve your eye health
General health starts with what we eat. As the famous saying goes, "We are what we eat". So when it comes to eye health, it's no different. Filling your plate with certain nutrients and vitamins, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and C, and zinc, can reduce your risk and delay certain eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Eating highly processed foods that are high in salt and sugars can increase the risk of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, dehydration, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, which in turn increase the risk of serious eye problems. Those types of problems are the leading cause of blindness in adults.
Thus, a diet with whole foods containing nutrients will help maintain proper eye health and vision. You can also add foods like citrus fruits, antioxidants, leafy greens containing phytochemicals, and fish rich in healthy fats, such as salmon or sardines.
Even so, and despite consuming nutrients and vitamins through food, some bodies and organisms need more, easily resentful. Therefore, supplements may be needed to suppress the lack of nutrients, such as omega-3 or vitamin A.
Smoking brings with it a series of negative consequences to the body. When it comes to eyesight, smoking makes you more likely to develop diseases like cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration more quickly, among other serious problems.
For all the complications it can bring to your health, try to quit smoking. Make your willpower and health your greatest allies.
See your doctor for a better follow-up on this journey.
Practice regular exercise
Exercising will help keep you fit and improve your health, including eye health, in the following ways:
- Improved Blood Circulation: Exercise promotes healthy blood circulation throughout the body, including the eyes, ensuring an adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen to the eyes. This improved circulation can contribute to the overall health and function of the eyes.
- Reduced Risk of Eye Conditions: Regular exercise has been associated with a reduced risk of certain eye conditions. Studies suggest that engaging in physical activity may help lower the risk of developing conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Exercise promotes optimal blood pressure, blood sugar control, and weight management, which are important factors in preventing these eye conditions.
- Reduced Eye Strain: Engaging in physical activity can help alleviate eye strain, especially for those who spend extended periods using digital devices. Exercise stimulates blood flow to the eyes, which can help reduce eye fatigue and dryness associated with prolonged screen time.
As with any lifestyle change, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns. They can provide personalized recommendations and guidance based on your specific needs.
Protect your eyes with sunglasses.
If we protect our skin with clothes, why shouldn't we protect our eyes, which are just as or more sensitive to sun exposure or dust, for example? Wearing sunglasses with an indicated shade of protection will help protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays, consequently protecting them from diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
When choosing your glasses, ask your ophthalmologist for pairs that block between 99% and 100% of UVA and UVB rays, especially with wraparound lenses (which help protect the eye from the side as well).
Furthermore, if you wear contact lenses, these should also be chosen according to the indicated protection so your vision is not damaged. In addition to lenses, wearing sunglasses for added protection may be beneficial.
Use Safety Eyewear
Protection from hazardous materials or activities must also extend to extremely sensitive eyes. Therefore, when you’re working with hazardous or airborne materials at work or home, always wear safety glasses and goggles.
With certain physical activities, it may be necessary to redouble care as well. When playing hockey in general, racquetball, or lacrosse, beware of eye injuries by protecting yourself. It may be useful to purchase helmets with protective masks or sports glasses with polycarbonate lenses to protect your eyes from possible risks.
Take some time to rest your eyes
If you work or study in front of a computer for many hours, likely, you have already felt some symptoms, such as eyestrain, blurry vision, dry eyes, or even headaches.
Therefore, taking short breaks from screens is essential for eye health. Also, some tips you can follow to rest your eyes and keep them healthy include:
- Ensure your glasses or contacts prescription is current.
- If your eye strain doesn't go away, talk to your doctor about using computer glasses to help with tiredness while using them.
- Move the screen so your eyes are level with the top of the monitor. That lets you look slightly down at the screen.
- Try to avoid glare from windows and lights. Use an anti-glare screen if needed. Nowadays, almost all computers have this option as well - keep it on.
- Choose a comfortable and supportive chair. Position your feet flat on the floor, helping your posture and preventing muscle pain.
- If your eyes are dry, blink more, or use artificial tears.
- Rest your eyes every 20 minutes. Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Get up at least every 2 hours and take a 15-minute break.
Visit Your Eye Doctor Regularly
As with other medical specialties, being accompanied by an eye doctor is essential, even for young children. However, it may be necessary to take extra care after a certain age. Having recurrent eye exams can help detect and treat conditions earlier, such as glaucoma or cataracts.
Depending on your eye health needs, you can see one of two types of doctors:
- Ophthalmologists: medical doctors who specialize in eye care. They can provide general eye care, treat eye diseases, and perform eye surgery.
- Optometrists: have had 4 years of specialized training after college. They provide general eye care and can diagnose and treat most eye diseases. They don't do eye surgery.
So, it’s important to consult your doctor, even if your eye health seems to be fine or without major changes, even if it is just for routine examinations, as said before. A comprehensive eye exam might include:
- Talking about your personal and family medical history
- Vision tests to see if you're nearsighted, farsighted, have astigmatism (a curved cornea that blurs vision), or presbyopia (age-related vision changes)
- Tests to see how well your eyes work together
- Eye pressure and optic nerve tests to check for glaucoma
- External and microscopic examination of your eyes before and after dilation
The bottom line
Although we are not always aware of it, eye health is extremely important to maintain. Therefore, being aware of symptoms and possible causes should not be your only preventative action. It is also important to visit the doctor regularly, conduct exams, and manage your eye health.
In addition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and developing habits such as having a good diet, not smoking, or practicing physical exercise can greatly improve eye health, allowing us to maintain our quality of life.