You only get one set of eyes and they’ve got to last you your entire lifetime. We depend on our eyes to help us navigate the world and experience everything from a great book, to a beautiful sunset or a loved one’s face.
Which is why it’s so important to take steps to protect your peepers and your vision whenever you can.
Protect your eyes with these easy to adopt habits
Following are five easy to adopt habits that can help protect your eyes so you can stay eagle-eyed well into your golden years.
1. Wear sunglasses:
Most of us don’t need anyone to remind us to wear our sunglasses on bright sunny days. But did you know you should be donning your shades even when it’s cloudy or overcast?
Cloud cover doesn’t stop all the ultraviolet (UV) light, from getting through. In fact, experts say the UV light can sometimes become even more intense on partly cloudy days. And that means that electromagnetic radiation can still hit and damage your unprotected eyes. In an Australian study, researchers found certain UV rays could be up to 40 percent stronger when there are some clouds in the sky.1
To protect your eyes get into the habit of thinking about your sunglasses like your shoes. You’d ever leave the house barefoot. Don’t leave bare eyed either.
2. Slash screen time:
From our smartphones to our tablets, we spend far too much time looking at screens these days. And all that screen exposure can take its toll causing eye strain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.
But the good news is if you want to protect your eyes from computer-linked vision problems, the solution couldn’t be easier. Step away from the screen more often. Or at least let your eyes step away.
Experts recommend a simple 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your screen at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives your peepers a much deserved break and helps protect your eyes.
3. Tone it down:
All that screen time has another downside. Our devices emit blue light, which reaches deeper into our eyes. According to the Review of Optometry, over time blue light could cause damage to your retinas.2 Plus research has found a link between certain wavelengths of blue light and the development of macular degeneration.3,4,5
But if you spend a lot of time on your smartphone, tablet and laptop, don’t panic. Experts also say spending a bit too much time looking at a screen will more likely just lead to fatigue, eye strain and dry eyes.
Either way lowering your blue light exposure is a good idea to protect your eyes. To reduce strain turn down the brightness on your digital screens, especially at night. And if you have to spend a lot of time staring at a screen, consider glasses with lenses that block high energy blue light.
And as a bonus you will likely sleep better too since blue light interferes with our sleep wake cycles.
4. Take a supplement:
Researchers from the University of Georgia say taking a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement can help protect your eyes. In a randomized placebo-controlled study, they gave young adults who spent six hours a day looking at digital screens the two nutrient combo or a placebo.
After six months, the folks who got the supplement had a significant improvement in their macular pigment.6 In other words the nutrients may help protect you against blue-light-linked macular degeneration.
Plus the volunteers who got the lutein and zeaxanthin aced visual performance tests, and had less eye fatigue and fewer headaches. Spinach, kale, radicchio, basil, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus all contain lutein and zeaxanthin. And both nutrients are available online or anywhere you can buy supplements.
5. Stop sleeping in your contacts:
A number of contact brands now say you can sleep in their lenses. That may technically be true. But every time you do it, you’re raising your risk for a potentially damaging eye infection.
Contacts reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your eyes. This creates an environment which can encourage micro-organisms to grow. Remove your contacts nightly to let your peepers “breathe,” and protect your eyes.
Your vision is too important to leave up to chance. Adopt these five easy habits today to protect your eyes for many more tomorrows.
1. “Broken-Cloud Enhancement of Solar Radiation Absorption,” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, Vol 53, No 6, 878-886
2. “The Lowdown on Blue Light: Good vs. Bad, and Its Connection to AMD,” Review of Optometry,” Release Date: February 2014
3. “The role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration,” Surv Ophthalmol. 2000;45(2)115–134
4. “Age-related maculopathy and the impact of blue light hazard. Acta Ophthalmol Scand,” 2006;84(1)4–15
5. “Transmission of light to the aging human retina: possible implications for age related macular degeneration,” Exp Eye Res. 2004;79(6)753–759
6. “Macular Carotenoid Supplementation Improves Visual Performance, Sleep Quality, and Adverse Physical Symptoms in Those with High Screen Time Exposure,” Foods 2017, 6(7), 47
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
Follow Alice and HealthierTalk on Twitter and Facebook.