Your eye health

As part of our Yes Eye Did campaign for National Eye Health Week we will be sharing eye health tips and encouraging you to take better care of your eyes. When it comes to health people sometimes tend to overlook their eye health. A recent health survey for England highlights the disconnection between what people think about their eye health and the actual reality, with one in five respondents who rated their eye health as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ admitting that eyesight limits their activities at least sometimes.

Diet

What we eat can affect the health of our eyes and nutrition can be very crucial to maintaining good eye health. The following food items could improve your eye health.

Cold water fish such a tuna, sardines and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are needed for general eye health as they provide structural support to cell membranes. Research shows that eating fish just once a week can reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the UK’s leading cause of blindness, by up to 40 per cent, and is also though to reduce dry eyes.

Blueberries and grapes contain anthocyanins, which are thought to help night vision.

Whole grains and avocados contain vitamin B, a deficiency of which can increase the risk of cataracts and retinopathy.

Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are rich in carotenoids lutein and zexanthin, which have a role in preventing AMD and the formation of cataracts, and are also though to reduce glare and discomfort, and enhance visual contrast.

Exercise

Introducing exercise to your routine can be of benefit to your general health and research studies show that it can also do your eyes a world of good. Growing evidence shows that regular exercise may reduce the risk of sight loss from narrowing or hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes. Exercise may also reduce the risk of sight loss and other complications from these conditions, once they develop. 

Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can have short term effects on vision such as slower pupil reaction as it causes the iris to constrict and dilate at a much slower speed. Studies show that heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of early age-related macular degeneration. 

Looking after your eyes in the sun

The sun can damage the eyes in different ways. It can burn the skin, it is assocaited with the formation of certain types of tumours, it can cause inflammation to the cornea and it may contribute to the formation of cataracts and there may be a role for UV light exposure in macular degeneration. It is vital that you look after your eyes in the sun because of the damage that can be caused. Moorfields’ consultant ophthalmologist and ophthalmic plastic surgeon, Raja Das-Bhaumik, advises when out in the sun: “Sunglasses are a must of course. But make sure they have adequate UV protection. If you are going to be on the water, you may wish to wear polarised lenses to prevent glare. Sun protection to the skin, including around the eyes, of an adequate factor is a must and don't forget to re-apply regularly! Wearing a wide brimmed hat will also protect the eyes and face from the sun.”

For further advice from Raja Das-Bhaumik on how to look after your eyes in the sun, please click here