Earlier this week, the country was abuzz with the first solar eclipse in decades. Warnings not to look directly at the eclipsing sun were issued based on the very real possibility of causing irreparable damage to your peepers. ISO certified eclipse glasses were harder to find than a needle in a haystack and many local organizations were holding eclipse box craft times in advance of the eclipse.
After the eclipse the most Googled phrase was “my eyes hurt”. So much for the advanced and dire warnings by the experts!
But the eclipse got me thinking about eye health, especially since I am getting a little older and would really like to continue to see my future! Ironically enough, my September issue of Shape Magazine arrived this week AND it has an article about healthy eating to help protect my peepers!
These days, eye strain is increasing as more and more of our daily lives involve computers and smart phones, with many spending as much as 11 hours staring at one screen or another. As you know, these screens emit blue light which can cause damage to the retinas; eye strain; eye fatigue; and seriously disrupt your sleep patterns.
So what can you do to protect your eyes and still function in our sometimes overly digital world?
- Take a break from your monitors. For anyone who has a desk job and is constantly working with a monitor, it’s essential to be aware of how to keep your eyes in shape!
- Sit about 25 inches away from the monitor and position the screen so you gaze slightly downward
- Reduce screen glare with proper lighting and consider a filter.
- Take a break and walk away from the monitor, or simply stare off into space.
- For smart phone users you have the option on many devices to change the screen settings to “nighttime” colors. These settings remove the “blue light” that causes eye strain and disrupts your sleep. You should also get off the phone an hour before hitting the hay.
- Protect your eyes from too much sun. When you are out and about wear sunglasses that are rated to absorb BOTH UVA and UVB rays. Add a hat for additional protection.
- Get a regular eye exam. It is recommended that adults aged 18 to 60 have an eye exam every two years; those over 60 should be examined every year. Obviously if you wear glasses or contacts you may need to be seen every year.
- Eat right. Your eyes, just like your heart, need proper nutrients to stay healthy.
- Eat a balanced diet of colorful fruits and vegetables. Foods such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard or collard greens are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that contribute to eye health. Shape magazine recommends making a salad with one or more of these ingredients as a base, then add in asparagus, fresh corn, edamame, zucchini, peas, and brussels sprouts and then toss on a hard-boiled egg for good measure (and protein)!
- If you are worried that your diet does not provide enough of the “eye health” nutrients, consider taking a supplement.
I don’t see the digital world going anywhere in the near future, so if you take these steps you can improve not only your eye health, but your overall health as well!