There is never a better time to kick start your wellness than the start of a new year. Sure, one day is no different from any other, but we humans have a flair for the dramatic, and we love clean breaks and fresh starts. So in the spirit of beginnings, why not inaugurate 2016 with some simple lifestyle changes that will optimize the health of your eyes—and what is good for your eyes is good for the rest of you, too.
Optimize Your Eye Health
We’ve identified six focus areas to target in order to ensure healthier eyes. By keeping each in mind and dedicating your efforts to improve on each of them, little by little you will notice a change in your overall wellness. And although the health and strength of your eyes is not something that is immediately apparent, ocular well-being is entirely about taking preventative measures to prevent future degeneration.
Eye health begins on the plate. What you put into your body determines to a large degree the strength of the entire ocular system and the vision it provides. Studies have shown that diets rich in green, leafy vegetables, oily fish, non-meat proteins like eggs, nuts and beans, and citrus fruits and juices lead to peak eye health (keeping conditions like near and far-sightedness and astigmatism at bay as well as reducing both the need for cataract surgery and the risk of glaucoma). These types of foods are high in nutrients like lutein, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and various vitamins that all have proven to be beneficial at protecting the eyes and at transporting important materials within the body to the eyes. Eating right for your eyes is not significantly different than eating right for your whole body, and the key to any diet is balance and moderation. Obesity can have catastrophic effects on the eyes, especially if it is accompanied by diabetes, the number one cause of blindness in adults in the United States.
After the foods you eat, there are a number of crucial and, hopefully, easy to manage factors that will positively benefit the health of your eyes. Prime among these is smoking, or, rather, the cessation of it. Smoking cigarettes has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration and optic nerve damage. Don’t take the risk. Another key factor, depending on your individual eyes, is UV protection. UV rays can provoke cataracts and macular degeneration, so make this the year that you vow to better protect your eyes from bright sunlight, especially when you are at double risk on the slopes or out on the water. Polarized lenses, for example, reduce glare while driving, so if you’ve been noticing problems with your eyesight, consider making adjustments in the life of your eyes—they’re the only two you’ll ever have! In addition, always wear protective eyewear whenever there’s a chance of something coming in contact with the surface of your eye. Get in the habit of wearing protective glasses when you play sports or when you’re in the workshop or studio.
Your Eyes Are Worth It
Lifestyle change can be difficult. We are all in the habit of our own habits. However, more than once in life we will be faced with the necessity to change them, and when it comes to your eyes, risk is always to be averted. If you experience strain or pain in your eyes regularly, you must consider how you can change your routine in order to offer your eyes and your head some relief. The fifth consideration for overall ocular wellness is to limit your time in front of a computer screen. Admittedly, this can be more than a little challenging in the modern workplace. At the very least, though, take a break from the screen for twenty seconds every twenty minutes and a fifteen minute break every two hours. Talk with your eye care provider about the appropriate prescription for computer work and the right distance and orientation you should maintain when sitting at a computer for prolonged periods. The final key to eye health is regular trips to the eye doctor—make sure you and your loved ones are seen by a professional on a regular basis as a preventative measure against diseases. Glaucoma, for example, has no symptoms and is most always first detected during an eye exam.
Take the steps, start the new year right, and protect yourself and your eyes!