By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
Most of us are well aware of the five senses bestowed to us through which we interact with our environment, i.e. vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. But how many of you have ever really wondered which of these is considered as the most valuable.
Your eyes are an important part of your health. Most people rely on their eyes to see and make sense of the world around them. But some eye diseases can lead to vision loss, so it is important to identify and treat eye diseases as early as possible.
Good vision helps you perform well at home, at work, or behind the wheel. That’s why it’s important to take a few simple steps to make sure you help keep your eyesight at its best. 
How Do I Maintain Healthy Vision? 
Maintaining healthy vision is more than getting a regular vision screening. Your overall health can impact your eye health. Here are some tips for maintaining good eyesight.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet -Your eyes are unique, and have their own set of nutritional needs. As part of your healthy diet, choose foods rich in antioxidants, like Vitamins A and C; foods like leafy, green vegetables and fish. Many foods – especially fatty fish, such as salmon – contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that are important to the health of the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision.
An inadequate intake of antioxidants, consumption of alcohol or saturated fats may create free-radical reactions that can harm the macula – the central part of the retina. High-fat diets can also cause deposits that constrict blood flow in the arteries. The eyes are especially sensitive to this, given the small size of the blood vessels that feed them.
Find out if you’re at risk for eye diseases -Getting older increases your risk of some eye diseases. You might also have a higher risk of some eye diseases if you:
- Are overweight or obese- Being overweight or having obesity increases your risk of developing diabetes. Having diabetes puts you at higher risk of getting diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma.
- Have a family history of eye disease- Talk with your family members to find out if they’ve had any eye problems. Some eye diseases and conditions run in families, like age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. Be sure to tell your eye doctor if any eye diseases run in your family.
- Other health conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, can also increase your risk of some eye diseases. For example, people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy — an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness.
If you’re worried you might be at risk for some eye diseases, talk to your doctor. You may be able to take steps to lower your risk.
Get regular exercise – Exercise may help to prevent or control diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These diseases can lead to some eye or vision problems. So if you exercise regularly, you can lower your risk of getting these eye and vision problems.
Wear sunglasses – Sun exposure can damage your eyes and raise your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Protect your eyes by using sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. So protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses even on cloudy days!
Wear protective eye wear – Safety glasses and goggles are designed to protect your eyes during certain activities, like playing sports, doing construction work, or doing home repairs. You can buy them from most eye care providers and some sporting goods stores.
Avoid smoking – Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs — it can hurt your eyes, too! Smoking increases your risk of diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts — and it can harm the optic nerve.
If you wear contacts, take steps to prevent eye infections– Always wash your hands before you put your contact lenses in or take them out. Be sure to disinfect your contact lenses and replace them regularly.
Give your eyes a rest – If you spend a lot of time using a computer, you can forget to blink your eyes and your eyes can get tired. To reduce eyestrain, try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
Throw Away Old Makeup– Replace your products every 3 months to avoid developing an eye infection. Never share cosmetics with others and avoid the store samples. And, clean your face before and after using makeup.
Take Frequent Screen Breaks– When you stare at a computer, tablet or phone screen too long, you may experience eyestrain, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches. To avoid these things you should:
- Take a screen break every 20 minutes
- Find a supportive chair and make sure your screen is eye level
- Keep your glasses/contacts prescription up to date and suitable for staring at screens
- Remember to blink.
Get Regular Eye Screenings – Everyone should be getting eye screenings on a regular basis. During the screening, your doctor may recommend you schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist if they believe there’s a potential vision problem.
Adjust the Lighting– Make sure that the lights in your office room are not too harsh. Turn a few off, if possible. Don’t sit with your back to an open window because your computer screen will reflect the light coming in through the window. You can also adjust the brightness of your computer so that it complements the lighting of the room.
Some other tips
- Try to rest and get at least 8 hours of sleep every night
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily
- Do not rub your eyes
- Use clean cotton balls and a cleanser to clean your eyes
- Protect your eyes from sunrays by using sunglasses especially during the peak hour to avoid any damage
- Apply slices of cucumber and potatoes on your eyes. This will avoid wrinkles and dark circles around the eyes
Eye Health and Diet 
Nutrition plays a role in your eye health. Four special nutrients; Vitamin C, E, A and Zinc can help reduce your risk of a common eye problem prevalence by up to 35%. So make sure you get the right amount of antioxidants through a healthy balanced and varied diet.
Foods that have great impact on your eye health and beauty include:
1. Fruits (especially those rich in vitamin C): Fill up on oranges, mangoes and strawberries
2. Vegetable sources of vitamin A: Eat more carrots, peaches, papaya, spinach and mangoes
3. High Zinc food sources: Include, chicken, yogurt and fortified cereals in your diet
4. Nuts and seeds: Such as almonds, nuts, and sunflower seeds are rich sources of Vitamin E
Taking good care of our eye health is vital to overall health, wellness, and well-being. While vision loss is not a normal part of aging, it’s important to protect our eyesight, even if you enjoy good eye health now. As we age it’s normal to experience some changes in vision, such as difficulty distinguishing colors, adjusting to glare, and near or farsightedness. But there are actions you can take to ensure your eyes are as healthy as possible and help prevent vision loss later in life.
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