More than a year into the pandemic and working from home, there is a growing list of the things that are hurting our bodies — our eyes are no exception. With the time spent staring at our screens at an all-time high, it’s especially important to pay attention to your eye health and educate yourself on how to avoid eye disease.
Here is a list of the top seven ways to protect these precious organs.
Protection. Wear sunglasses and a hat when outdoors to protect your eyes against ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light exposure can cause photokeratitis, which is essentially sunburn of the eyes and has been linked with development of cataracts, macular degeneration, pinguecula, and pterygiums. It is common to see people wearing sunglasses during the summer, however, it’s also important wear them in the winter — especially when there is snow, since the white stuff reflects a lot more UV light.
Eye Nutrition. Our diet plays an important role in determining eye health. There are many ways to ensure you are getting the right vision-protecting nutrients. Antioxidants (Vitamin A,C, E) and minerals (zinc) found in oranges, bell peppers, carrots, almonds can help prevent progression of macular degeneration. Since our retinas are in a state of high oxidative stress, and produce a lot of free radicals. These antioxidants reduce the free radicals and decrease the risk of retinal damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin are excellent for macular health and can be found in brightly coloured vegetables and green leafy vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, oranges, and papayas. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important as they have anti-inflammatory properties and are good for maintaining tear stability.
And lastly, maintaining an active lifestyle is also good for overall eye health, particularly for those with diabetes physical activity helps to maintain blood sugar control and prevent complications from diabetes-related retinopathy (damage to the retina).
Safety glasses. A lot of people suffer trauma from workplace-related accidents annually. It can be in the form of foreign body in the eye, radiation exposure, chemical burns, or blunt force trauma. Safety glasses, helmets, shields, and appropriate safety equipment can help protect you against potential workplace injury.
Computer vision syndrome. Our eyes were not designed to focus on computer screens and digital devices all day long — it’s important to take frequent breaks. Remember the 20/20/20 rule: For every 20 minutes of computer and near-work, take a 20 second break, look 20 feet away and blink a few times. This helps to relax your eyes and also reduces eye strain and fatigue. Another tip is to ensure your computer screen is at — or slightly below — your line of sight and that there is proper lighting in the room.
Quit Smoking. Smoking impacts your eye health by increasing the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye conditions.
Proper contact lens care. The misuse of contact lenses can increase risk of eye infections and result in vision loss. Napping and sleeping in contact lenses that are not intended for overnight use can result in corneal swelling and infections. In addition, the use of tap water for cleaning instead of proper lens cleaning formulas can increase the risk of bacterial or parasitic infections. Remember to follow your eye care professional’s directions on how often to replace lenses, how long to wear them and proper disinfection strategies.
Routine eye exam. Routine eye exams allow for early detection, monitoring, and management of eye diseases. Diseases such as glaucoma are called “silent thieves of vision” because in the early stages, significant vision losses and symptoms are not noticeable. However, if the disease goes undetected and advances, it can cause severe loss of peripheral vision.
Dr. Manveen Bedi is a Brampton, Ontario-based optometrist who focuses on specialty contact lens fitting for corneal pathologies, aphakia, and prosthetics as well as myopia control and dry eyes. Follow her vision health tips on instagram @drmbedi. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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