Foods and habits to improve your eye health
It is often believed that medicines alone are necessary to maintain good eye health but we may not know that daily food consumption and daily lifestyle habits play a great role in this. Here are foods and habits for healthy eyes or to improve eye health
Eye health is not only maintained by taking care of the eyes but also by maintaining overall health and by improving lifestyle. The post-pandemic era has seen a sudden surge in dryness of eyes owing to long hours of digital eyestrain consuming the overall health of our eyes.
Health experts alert that the rate of tear evaporation exceeds the rate of tear production creating quite an imbalance that warrants the use of antiglare screen protection glasses, drinking plenty of fluids and using preservative-free artificial tear supplements to overcome the imbalance hence maintaining homeostasis. The second most serious problem of global concern is obesity and diabetes, which are related to sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and eating junk food that in turn has serious implications on eye health.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Priyanka Singh (MBBS, MS, DNB, FAICO), Consultant and Eye Surgeon at Neytra Eye Centre in New Delhi, recommended some habits that are necessary to follow in daily routine for healthy eyes -
1) Eat Healthy: Have plenty of vegetables and fruits for Vitamin E, A and D. Fish like Salmon and Tuna are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Include nuts and seeds (especially flaxseeds) in your diet that replenishes omega-3 fatty acids and provides antioxidants to eyes. Also, eggs and citrus foods should be incorporated. Use blended vegetables, oils, Ghee and oils fortified with Vitamin A and D. Most importantly, drink plenty of water i.e. approximately 6-8 glasses of water per day.
2) Yoga and exercise: Be active not only to reduce weight but to keep your heart, and lungs healthy and to regulate normal blood sugar. It is advisable to perform eye exercises to keep eye muscles strong.
3) Quit smoking and alcohol: Smoking and alcohol are not good for overall health and the eyes as well. They increases the risk of cataract and can cause Retinopathy, Macular Degeneration and Optic Neuropathy.
4) Reduce screen time: Reduce the screen time as much as possible. Take a break every 20 mins for 20 secs and look far from 20 feet away. Use protective bluecut glasses.
5) Improve habits: Have good sleep of at least 7-8 hours. Get outside and walk for 30 minutes each day. Let children play outside for at least one hour a day.
6) Eye care habits: Avoid touching and rubbing your eyes with dirty hands. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Wear protective eyewear in sports, during constructions and repair work. Always change your eye cosmetics every 6-8 months. Do not share them with anybody. For contact lens wearers -
1. Maintain contact lens hygiene
2. Do not sleep with contact lens ON.
3. Do not use water and expired solutions for contact lenses.
7) Pre-existing diseases: Check and monitor your Blood sugar, BP, and Thyroid level regularly.
8) Regular eye checkups: Opt for frequent checkups in case of preexisting systemic diseases. Once a year regular eye check-ups are necessary for both kids and adults to maintain normal eye health and detect diseases in their early stages.
9) Eye checkups in children: First eye checkups should be done in children between 3-4 years to prevent vision loss due to refractive errors and lazy eyes.
Dr Sridevi Haldar, Ophthalmologist/Eye Surgeon at Ortho Vision Clinic in Noida, shared, “Diseases like diabetic retinopathy in severe forms, glaucoma, meibomitis have taken the centre stage. These are debilitating comorbid conditions that need prolonged treatment thus consuming effort and energies of self and family. One should refrain from savouring such mouthwatering junk food and indulge in healthy lifestyle behaviour. We have been seeing a sudden surge in refractive error cases in children owing to limitations indoors during the pandemic. This has resulted in the depletion of Vitamin D reserves of the body therefore poor absorption of calcium from food sources compelling abnormal elongation of eyeball size and hence rapid increase in eye power.”
According to studies 1 hour of sunlight exposure is a must for children as well as adults. Dr Sridevi Haldar advised, “Foods rich in calcium such as milk, eggs, and bananas should be consumed on daily basis for the health of eyes as well as bones. There should be adequate natural light at home and children should be encouraged to study under proper illumination. Digital screen time to be curtailed to not more than 30 minutes for children below 8 years of age and 90 minutes for children between 8-16 yrs of age. Nowadays there are lot of myopia control therapies available to prevent the rapid progression of refractive error. Do consult your physician regarding the same.”
She added, “While sunlight is essential for mental health as it helps release dopamine, serotonin (endorphins), it is an essential source of Vitamin D. This has also been found to be essential for the strength of your cornea. When a weak cornea starts bending or steepening, a disease known as keratoconus occurs which starts with frequently changing glasses but eventually leads to sight-threatening complications due to severe thinning. So we suggest one should not rub eye as it can predispose to keratoconus. In case of dry eyes or allergies, consult your physician and take appropriate treatment.”
Asserting that healthy food and practising good habits are important in maintaining healthy eyes, Dr Rajesh Prabu, Consultant Speciality Clinic, Paediatric Opthalmology at Sankara Eye Hospital in Coimbatore, said, “It is often believed that medicines alone are necessary to maintain good eye health but we may not know that daily food consumption and daily habits play a great role in this.” He revealed a list of foods that help maintain good eye health:
1. Nuts - Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E which can protect eye from age-related damage.
2. Seeds - Seeds too contain omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E.
3. Citrus fruits - Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Just like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is recommended to fight age-related eye damage.
4. Leafy green vegetables - Leafy green vegetables are rich in both lutein and zeaxanthin and are also a good source of eye-friendly vitamin C.
5. Carrots - Carrots are rich in both Vitamin A and beta carotene, which is important in maintenance of healthy eyes.
6. Sweet potatoes - Like carrots, sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene. They are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.
7. Water - A fluid that is essential to life is also crucial for eye health. Consumption of good quantities of water can prevent dehydration, which may reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.
He advised some daily habits to improve your eye health:
• Avoid excessive exposure to the sun; wear sunglasses if you are outside for long time
• Put a stop of smoking – Excessive smoking can impact eye health
• Get regular eye examination done, particularly when one may have family history of eye disease
• Eye protection gear is vital when working with possible eye irritants or dangerous chemicals
• Wash hands regularly prior to applying contacts to the eye. Wear contact lens only up to the period certified by the doctor or manufacturer
• A cardinal principle to follow is to avoid exposure to computer for prolonged periods and computer-related eye strain by looking away every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds
It’s always important to ensure early treatment of eye health problems to avoid complications. If you notice any changes in your vision, immediately seek eye examination from an expert ophthalmologist.