According to researchers, digital eye strain (DES) affects up to 50% of computer users. DES, also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS), can lead to a range of vision-related symptoms. These include red, itchy, and fatigued eyes, and in many folks, even headaches.
Aging, poor nutritional practices, and unhealthy habits can also lead to vision problems. Scientists even found evidence that a poor diet can result in blindness!
Fortunately, many eyesight woes are preventable with better lifestyle choices. From regular eye exercises to loading on nutrients, all these can help keep your eyes healthy.
We rounded some of the best tactics to help retain or improve your eyesight, so be sure to read on!
1. Vision Therapy Eye Exercises You Can Try Anywhere
Vision therapy is a specialized treatment administered by eye specialists. It includes eye exercises that aim to boost eye muscle strength and reduce eye pain and strain. Some of the exercises may also help retrain the eyes to reduce poor visual behavior.
Several exercises used in vision therapy are doable almost anywhere. Here are a few that you can try at home, at work, or even in the subway.
The Rotational Viewing (Eye-Rolling) Exercise
A study looked at how yogic eye exercises may benefit undergraduate nursing students. They found evidence that the exercises reduced eye fatigue in the participants. It consisted of eight five-minute exercises, one of which was rotational viewing.
The researchers noted that rotational viewing restored muscle balance in the eyes. They also reported improvements in coordinated eyeball activity.
With that said, gently rotating (rolling) your eyes may help reduce eye strain and pain. It may also help boost the strength of your eye muscles.
Be sure to sit when you perform this exercise, as it may make you a bit disoriented at first. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and slowly rotate your eyes clockwise. Keep doing this for at least 2.5 minutes before you switch to moving them counter-clockwise.
The Blinking and Focus Shifting Exercise
Blinking is crucial to eye health as it helps spread tears, thereby moisturizing the eyes. That’s why blinking is just as natural and instinctive as breathing. It’s also for this reason that the average person blinks about 15 times per minute.
However, staring too long at an object, such as a computer screen, can dampen that instinct. It can cut the eyes’ blink rate by half, reducing it to five to seven blinks a minute. As a result, your eyes can dry out, start to itch, or even become sore and painful.
The focus shifting exercise can serve as a reminder not to stare too long at an object. It may help train your eye muscles to move more often and help you develop proper blinking practices.
As with eye-rolling, make sure you take a seat before you start the focus shifting exercise. Sit with your back straight, and then raise one finger and extend your arm as far from your eyes as you can.
Next, keep your focus on the raised finger as you move it slowly from side to side. Blink each time you move your finger in the opposite direction. Repeat these steps a few times.
The 10-15 Eye Exercise
Accommodation is a medical term that refers to how the eyes focus on a near object.
In some people, though, the eyes’ focus on nearby objects becomes constant or automatic. As a result, distant objects can appear blurry or unclear. This is what eye experts refer to as accommodative spasm.
Reading things too closely can cause accommodative spasm, but it can also be a sign of DES. Either way, the 10-15 exercise may help reduce your risks of developing this condition.
Start the exercise by looking at an object far from you for at least 10 to 15 seconds. Then, focus your attention on a near object, also for 10 to 15 seconds. After this, direct your eyes back at the first distant object and spend another 10 to 15 seconds looking at it.
Repeat these steps about 10 to 15 times.
2. Let Your Eyes Rest
According to the American Optometric Association, the 20-20-20 rule may help ease DES. It involves resting your eyes every 20 minutes and looking at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Like the 10-15 exercise, the 20-20-20 rest rule may also help keep accommodative spasm at bay.
You can also simply close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Closing your eyes can help you relax, which, in turn, can also help ease eye strain.
3. Wear Peeper Protection
Each year, an estimated 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the US alone. Of these, 90% are preventable with the use of protective eyewear.
Many eye injuries happen at home and can result from household tasks, such as cleaning. Something as safe as cleaning can already injure your eyes if you don’t use protective gear. For instance, household cleaners or chemicals can get into your eyes.
In any case, always use appropriate eye protection, such as safety glasses or goggles. Face masks and shields can also give better coverage, as they can protect your face, too.
4. Don’t Forget to Don the Sunnies
The best sunglasses should provide 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays. Both are types of ultraviolet radiation that can damage the skin and the eyes. Chronic exposure to UVA and UVB can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, or photokeratitis.
5. Vitamin A for A-Sight
Vitamin A (retinol) deficiency is the primary culprit behind preventable blindness in kids. However, severe vitamin A deficiency in adults may also put their vision at risk.
Some of your top sources of vitamin A are liver and liver products. Eggs, cheese, yogurt, and fortified milk are also good sources.
You can also go for yellow and red vegetables, such as bell peppers, carrots, and pumpkin. Don’t forget to stock up on green leafy veggies, such as spinach and chard. These contain beta-carotene, which the body can synthesize into vitamin A.
6. Vitamin C and E for Clarity
Free radicals are reactive atoms that, in excessive amounts, can cause oxidative stress. According to scientists, these atoms are the major cause of cataract formation. Cataracts, in turn, cause the clear lens of the eyes to become cloudy.
Vitamin C and E are antioxidants that protect the body, including the eyes, from free radicals. In this way, they may help contribute to preventing the effects of oxidative stress. Aside from cataracts, oxidative stress can also cause age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Peppers and many leafy greens are rich in both vitamins. You can also get vitamin C from citrus fruits, strawberries, blackcurrants, and broccoli. Vitamin E is in oils like wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, and soybean, as well as peanuts and pumpkin.
7. Quit It
Many studies have found proof that smoking can impair vision or even cause blindness. It can raise your risks of developing age cataracts and glaucoma. Smokers also have double the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Moreover, smoking affects your entire body, as it can put you at risk of heart diseases and stroke. Nicotine can also cause blood vessel constriction and blood flow restriction. Worse, smoking causes about 80% of lung cancers and 20% of all cancers.
At the very least, tobacco smoke alone can make your eyes dry, itchy, and red. All that should be enough reason to quit.
8. Keep Fit
Having diabetes can raise your risks of developing cataracts by two to five times. It also causes diabetic retinopathy, the main cause of vision loss in those with diabetes.
Diabetes, in turn, is more prevalent in people who are overweight or have obesity. This disease hurts the eyes, too, as it damages the eyes’ tiny blood vessels.
Since weight has something to do with diabetes, it’s best you maintain a normal weight. This may help lower your risks of developing diabetes and the eye problems it can cause.
9. Say Hi To an Ophthalmologist Once a Year
Health experts associate more than 350 eye disorders with genes. Glaucoma, a primary cause of blindness in the elderly, is one such eye condition.
Glaucoma, along with many other hereditary eye disorders, may not have early symptoms. As such, you may think your eyes are doing fine until it’s too late and they’ve already sustained damage.
A yearly trip to the ophthalmologist can help you catch most eye diseases early on. These are medical doctors trained to detect, diagnose, treat, and prevent eye disorders. They monitor their patients’ eye health so that they can administer prompt treatment.
Keep Your Vision Clear With These Tips
Eye exercises, screen breaks, and healthy life choices can help preserve your eyesight. However, just as important is to have an eye doctor keep a close look at your peepers. This way, they can detect and treat eye diseases before they rob you of your vision.
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