Tips that can sus­tain your eye health

Jamaica Gleaner - - WORLD SIGHT DAY FEATURE -

THERE ARE five sim­ple steps we can do to help pre­vent com­mon eye dis­eases and pre­serve our vi­sion.

1. Nu­tri­tion

Eat­ing anti-in­flam­ma­tory foods and watch­ing your di­etary in­take of an­tiox­i­dants [sub­stances that may pro­tect cells from the dam­age caused by un­sta­ble mol­e­cules known as free rad­i­cals] are im­por­tant and do seem to help pre­vent some of the age-re­lated dis­ease pro­cesses like mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion and cataracts. We should try to eat more foods that con­tain omega-3 fatty acids, and avoid­ing sat­u­rated fats.

Eat lots of green, leafy veg­gies, like kale, col­lard greens and spinach, which are rich in lutein, an an­tiox­i­dant that re­search shows may help pre­serve eye health and de­ter the risk of mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion. Wolf­ber­ries, which are rich in zeax­an­thin, also may be ben­e­fi­cial. Flaxseed is rec­om­mended be­cause it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Dry eyes can be helped by di­ets rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Diet is at the root of many dis­eases that can af­fect the eyes. High blood pres­sure has been linked to a mul­ti­tude of eye prob­lems, in­clud­ing mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion and hy­per­ten­sive retinopa­thy. Di­a­betes can cause se­vere prob­lems in the eyes. High choles­terol can cause prob­lems in the blood sup­ply of the eyes.

2. Pro­tect your eyes from the sun

Sun ex­po­sure has been linked to cataract for­ma­tion and, pos­si­bly, mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion. The nor­mal tinted glasses will not help. To pro­tect the eyes from harm­ful ul­tra­vi­o­let (UV) rays, you need to make sure your reg­u­lar glasses and sun­glasses have 100 per cent UV pro­tec­tion, which is com­pletely sep­a­rate from the tint.You can have clear lenses with UV coat­ing that will pro­tect you from the harm­ful rays of the sun. UV pro­tec­tive glasses do more than pro­tect against cataracts and other eye dis­eases. UV rays can also cause growths on the eye’s sur­face that are called ptery­gium. This eye con­di­tion, which can ap­pear as yel­low bumps or ex­ces­sive tis­sue on the eye’s sur­face, can de­crease vi­sion and may re­quire surgery. If you buy over-the-counter sun­glasses, look for the words ‘UV ab­sorb­ing’.

3. Ex­er­cise

There has been some con­tro­versy about whether ex­er­cis­ing the eyes with eye move­ments helps pre­serve vi­sion or pre­vent dis­ease. There is re­search that sug­gests aer­o­bic ex­er­cise, in gen­eral, re­duces eye pres­sure – which can be ben­e­fi­cial in the case of glau­coma, ac­cord­ing to Gold­man.

4. Don’t smoke!

Smok­ing in­creases the risk for eye dis­eases and vi­sion prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to re­search. Smok­ing dam­ages blood ves­sels, caus­ing them to con­strict and form atheroscle­rotic plaques – which can de­prive the eye tis­sue of oxy­gen. Also, smok­ing has been shown to in­crease cataract for­ma­tion.

5. Eye health at work

While com­puter use won’t harm your eyes in the long term, work­ing at a com­puter can cause eye fa­tigue and symp­toms such as tired, dry, itchy or burn­ing eyes. Peo­ple can pre­vent eye stress by sit­ting cor­rectly at the com­puter with the screen po­si­tioned slightly be­low the line of sight. The screen shouldn’t be inches away (too close) or so far that you can­not see the print, eas­ily. Eye­glasses such as tri­fo­cals or pro­gres­sive should be rec­om­mended to be used with the com­puter. Glare can cre­ate eye strain. Peo­ple can com­bat glare at work with an­tire­flec­tive coat­ings on their com­puter screens as well as an­tire­flec­tive coat­ings on their glasses.

To help with the strain that ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing can cause on the eyes it is rec­om­mended that peo­ple con­vert to in­can­des­cent light from a reg­u­lar soft white light bulb or have lamps on their desks with in­can­des­cent light that il­lu­mi­nates the work area evenly.

6. Have yearly eye ex­am­i­na­tion

One of the most proac­tive steps that peo­ple can take to pro­tect their vi­sion is to have a com­plete eye exam early in their life. It is rec­om­mended that an eye ex­am­i­na­tion should be done as early as six months of age. An­nual eye ex­ams are rec­om­mended as per­sons get older, de­pend­ing on their fam­ily his­tory and in­di­vid­ual risk of eye dis­ease. Peo­ple 65 and older should have an­nual eye ex­ams be­cause their risk for eye dis­eases rises dra­mat­i­cally.

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