Whether we are young or old, we need to look after our precious eyesight. Apart from protecting our eyes from injury, there are foods that we can take, exercises we can do and more, to help our eye health.
Here is all you need to know
1. If you can take lutein and zeaxanthin
every day either in a supplement or in a food such as spinach (where a daily quarter cup would give you a sufficient dose) this can help prevent macular degeneration. Another plus for lutein is that it filters out UV rays so the risk of developing cataracts drops. Lutein and zeaxanthin are 2 carotenoids that occur naturally in the retina, working like sunglasses to prevent damage to the eye cells by screening out ultraviolet rays. Other foods to put lutein and zeaxanthin back in your system include eggs, kale,spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, garden peas and Brussels sprouts. For maximum benefits, these foods should be eaten raw or steamed lightly. Just remember that lutein, like other carotenoids, is fat-soluble, so cannot be absorbed unless fat is also present. So for example enjoy your spinach, whether steamed, sautéed or fresh in spinach salad, with a little olive oil and a chopped hard-boiled egg. Another method would be lightly steamed spinach topped with a lightly poached egg or two and a dab of butter. If your diet is healthy and varied, you don't need many supplements.
2. But one of the herbal supplements that you can take is ginkgo biloba
because it acts against free radical damage in the retina while at the same time improving the blood flow in the optic nerve. Medical studies have shown that taking the supplement twice a day considerably improves the long distance vision.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
in sufficient quantities (such as taking a supplement or eating fish more than twice a week) will also help prevent macular degeneration by as much as 50%.
4. Drinking alcohol
can mean that you have lower than normal blood levels of carotenoids so limit your intake.
5. Avoid cigarette smoke
which is bad news for eyes, increasing the risk of macular degeneration significantly by depleting those all important antioxidants. Smoking and cigarette smoke is the cause of 20% of all cataracts.
6. Then there is exercise for your body and exercise for your eyes.
Any type of regular exercise as well as improving the body's circulation and eliminating toxins will do the same for the eyes. One amazing study has found that those glaucoma patients who do a good work-out with 40 minutes of walking 5 days a week get the same results as if they used a pharmaceutical beta-blocker – namely the reduction of the intraocular pressure by some 2.5 mm. No side effects from walking – only benefits – but there could well be plenty of unwanted side effects from using the beta-blocker.
7. Exercises for the eyes
: Close your eyes tightly for 3-5 seconds before opening them again for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 7 or 8 times.
8. Another exercise
: lightly press 3 fingers of each hand against your upper eyelids. Hold for 1-2 seconds before releasing. Repeat 5 times.
9. Sit and relax
. Roll your eyes clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Repeat 5 times, blinking in between each time.
10. A final exercise
is to focus on a distant object (further than 150 feet or 5 meters away or preferably the far horizon) for 10 to 15 seconds. Then slowly refocus your eyes on a nearby object (closer than 30 feet or 10 meters) without moving your head. Focus again for 10 to 15 seconds and go back to the distant object. Repeat this 5 times. The exercise with the horizon used to be done naturally by our ancestors when they were keeping a look out for everything from predators to the weather!
It is really worth while doing what we can to prevent any toll on our eyesight. Unfortunately, with ageing the surface of the cornea flattens, so less light gets into the eye. At the same time the macula (essential for reading and seeing the small print and fine details) becomes thinner. While lots of different causes lead to these changes, we can halt the progression through diet and exercise.
A few years ago, I suffered from a detached retina – it was a frightening experience and it made me realize how important my eyesight was to me.
I never take my eyesight for granted any more.