Top tips for healthy eyes
Smoking increases your chances of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. As well as containing thousands of toxic chemicals which speed up the ageing process, smoking causes your blood vessels to narrow which increases your blood pressure. Therefore smokers are four times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers. For support on how to stop smoking contact the free NHS helpline on 0300 123 1044.
Being overweight increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, all of which have the potential to cause sight loss. Regular exercise is one way of helping you to maintain a healthy weight and therefore reduce the risks to your health as well as your sight.
Healthy eating can you help you to maintain healthy eyes. And it’s not just carrots that are good for you. A diet rich in vitamins A, C and E, lutein and Omega-3 will help keep your eyes healthy for longer.
Foods such as sweet potatoes, spinach, oranges, red peppers, broccoli, kale and avocados are rich in vitamins A, C and E. Dark leafy green vegetables and other green or yellow vegetables also contain lutein, as do eggs. Lutein is an antioxidant which helps to protect our eyes. It is thought to delay the onset of AMD and help prevent cataracts. Our bodies don’t naturally produce lutein, so we have to get it from our diet.
Research has also shown that Omega-3 is good for your eyes and can help to ease the symptoms of dry eyes. Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon contain high levels of Omega-3 as do flaxseeds, linseeds and walnuts.
Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing AMD and could even cause permanent vision loss due to the effect alcohol has on the optic nerve. Sticking to the recommended weekly guideline of no more than 14 units a week can help to reduce this risk. That’s roughly equivalent to six pints of beer or six medium glasses of wine a week.
Protect your eyes from the sun
The sun’s UV rays are harmful to your eyes and prolonged exposure can increase your risk of developing AMD or cataracts. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat or sunglasses with a high level of UV protection will help to protect your eyes. You could also wear solar shields to help prevent discomfort from the sun’s glare.