From the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed, our eyes are working hard to make life extra special for us.
And they bring us nothing but joy; whether it’s helping us see our loved ones’ faces and watching our children playing or admiring beautiful views and catching up with our favourite TV programmes.
Being without them is unthinkable.
Despite this, good eyesight is something most of us take for granted. Yet every day 300 people in this country are diagnosed with macular disease, the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK – and it’s set to rise dramatically. Yet there’s no cure.
But the great news is there are plenty of easy things you can do every day to help keep your vision healthy.
Quit the ciggies
Smoking harms eye tissue so quitting can help prevent damage. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to develop the most common form of macular disease, age-related macular degeneration. They’re also diagnosed earlier than most.
Smoking is also linked to cataracts and can make diabetes-related sight problems worse.
Our eyes contain a lot of fluid which protects them by washing away debris and dust every time we blink. To maintain this, it’s important to drink plenty of water. But stay away from too much alcohol as it decreases your levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps protect against eye disease.
Feast on fruit and veg
Like the rest of our bodies, our eyes need good nutrition to stay in peak condition. So try getting more of these in your diet
Fill up on veg that contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which can help protect your eyes against AMD. So pick leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach as well as broccoli, red peppers and leeks. Lutein also helps protect eyes from ageing.
Carrots are worth a special mention because when your mum told you eating them would help you see in the dark, she wasn’t far off! The old wives’ tale comes from the veg being rich in beta-carotene which helps to protect against night blindness and cataracts.
Oranges, lemons, limes and other citrus fruit contain stacks of vitamin C which is essential for good vision. It helps keep the blood vessels in your eyes healthy and can combat the development of cataracts and AMD.
This fantastic fatty acid can reduce the risk of AMD significantly and also help prevent a condition called dry eye – where not enough tears are made or they evaporate too quickly.
It’s found in oily fish like mackerel, tuna and salmon, seeds including chia and flax, soybeans and walnuts.
Step away from the screens
During lockdown, many of us became squared-eyed as we were spending so much time watching TV and on the computer. In fact, we spend an average of eight hours a day staring at screens.
This can lead to eye discomfort, headaches and dry and gritty eyes so it’s important to step away from them occasionally to prevent any harm.
To prevent fatigue, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, make sure you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Physically protecting your eyes from danger is also necessary. When you’re out in bright light, put on a pair of sunglasses that protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays which may cause cataracts.
And if you’re a DIY fan or work in a workshop, remember your safety goggles to stop anything flying into your eye and damaging the soft tissue.
Book a test
One of the most important things you can do to keep your vision as good as possible is to have your eyes tested every two years.
Opticians aren’t just trained to give you glasses, they can spot conditions like AMD, cataracts and glaucoma – which has no symptoms – early and arrange any treatment available.
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