General Health

Do Healthy Resolutions Help Improve Eye Health?

Eyes help us to view the beautiful external world and also allow others to look inside our internal reality. The eyes give us vision and it is the most precious of the five senses. It keeps on working silently but efficiently. Our present dependence on technology has made us constantly look at digital devices, both at home and at work. This unlimited and timeless screen staring is causing eye-straining and leading to poor eye health. Our social media addiction and advancement are making eyes work tirelessly diligently without needed rest.

Over time we became less empathetic with our eyes and their health. With uninterrupted unhealthy eye health practices, vision impairment is becoming a major health complication and will continue to be in future years irrespective of age. Not only does visual impairment have a negative and potentially life-changing effect on the individual, but it also puts a strain on the whole family.

Importance of Eye health throughout the lifecycle

  1. Pregnancy, infancy, and toddlerhoodThis is the time of visual development and early life nutrition is essential in supporting visual health. Advice: It is mandatory to ensure adequate eye health care during this time.
  2. Children and teenagers- In this era, this age group spend more time indoors and is now exposed to higher levels of blue light through digital devices. Advice: Protect children’s eyes from UV light, do regular eye testing, reduce screen time and motivate them to eat a balanced diet.
  3. Adults- During this time, It is critical to maintain visual performance and good eye health along with underlying lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Also, screen time has increased which is negatively impacting eye health. Advice: Eat a healthy diet, sleep adequately, exercise regularly, and stop smoking.
  4. Elderly- Ageing is a significant risk factor for visual health as chances of visual impairment are the most during this time. Advice: Early identification, treatment and care is required.

What are the warning signs of unhealthy eyes?

Eye problems range from mild to severe. Irrespective of their severity they should never be ignored and treated as early as possible.

Mild symptoms: These can be due to excessive screen time, causing painful headaches, eye strain, blurred vision and dry eyes. These surely hamper the quality of life and work performance.

Severe symptoms: These are due to other co-morbid medical conditions demanding immediate action.

  • The sudden appearance of spots and floaters in your field of vision
  • A sensation that a dark curtain is blocking part of your field of view
  • Sudden eye pain and redness
  • Double vision and double images or “ghost” images
  • A gradual loss of central vision
  • Cloudy and blurred eyesight; glare
  • Blind spots
  • Eye discomfort or irritated eyes

Nutrition and eye health

Good nutrition at all ages is vital for the entire body and plays an important role in maintaining healthy eyes. A balanced diet and sufficient nutrition are the key lifestyle factors that have long-term effects on overall health including eye health. Unhealthy eating habits, poor diet and nutrient deficiencies increase vision impairment risk. Yet, awareness of the link between diet and good eye health is low in the general population. Usually, knowledge about vision-promoting foods is scant. Following a healthy lifestyle and eating good quality nutritious food can protect and maintain adequate vision for a longer period.

Nutrients that strengthen eye health

A healthy diet for the eyes should include plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables.

  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Anti-inflammatory in nature and prevents cataracts and macular degeneration. These are found naturally in the retina the light-sensitive tissue lining located in the back of the eye. This is why boosting a diet with lutein and zeaxanthin is a win for eye health. Also helps improve visual performance and tolerance to glaring light.

Source: Spinach, turnip greens, squash and dark green leafy vegetables.

  • Omega-3s EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)

Prevents macular degeneration and dryness of the eyes.

Source: Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, freshly ground flaxseeds and walnuts.

  • Vitamin C, E, A, D and beta-carotene

Acts as an antioxidant and delays the progression of macular degeneration, night blindness and cataract.

Source: chicken liver; eggs, butter, milk, Sweet peppers (red or green), strawberries, broccoli, oranges, almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and vitamin D fortified foods.

  • Zinc

Improves eye health and maintains normal vision. Simultaneously reduces the risk of eye diseases.

Source: Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, cashews, hemp seeds.

  • Selenium

Reduce the risk of advancement of age-related macular degeneration.

Source: Seafood (shrimp, crab, salmon, halibut), Brazil nuts and brown rice.

  • Bioflavonoids

Provides a wide range of protection against a variety of eye diseases.

Source: Tea, citrus fruits, bilberries, blueberries, cherries, legumes, soy products.

Unhealthy Dietary practices that may increase vision problems

  • Sugar-loaded soft drinks- Studies suggest that high consumption of these increases eye disease progression
  • Dehydration- Inadequate intake of water leads to dry, irritated and itchy eyes
  • High sodium Intake- As per research, this may increase cataract risk
  • Refined carbohydrates- High intake of these also increases the chances and advancement of macular degeneration

Conclusion

Eye care is a key health concern across all life stages. A long-term preventative approach should focus on adopting a good lifestyle, regular eye testing and early detection of vision impairment. All these will surely improve eye health but not cure or reverse vision which is already lost. Understanding the symptoms and consulting an opthalmologist is very crucial to preventing the damage. Giving eyes their much due rejuvenation, revitalization and rest is a must so that they work best till the last.

References

  1. www.talkingnutrition.dsm.com
  2. www.allaboutvision.com/en-in/vision-by-age/warning-signs/
  3. www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/nutrition_summary.htm
  4. Nutrients 2019, 11, 2123; doi:10.3390/nu11092123
  5. Eyecare Trust’s Healthy Eyes Report

Author

Aparna Das Parmar

Aparna Parmar has over 8.5 years of rich experience in the field of nutrition and healthcare and is currently a corporate nutritionist.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button