By Rebecca Kalaowubo
For obvious reasons, the eye is arguably one of the most important organs in the body because of its sensitivity and function. From macular degeneration(degeneration of area responsible for central vision) to the blurring that comes after staring at a computer screen or the partial vision loss we experience after looking directly at an intense light, it is no joke that our eyes deteriorates as we age.
Research have shown that eye health is linked to diet and lifestyle. Lifestyles changes including good nutrition could help delay or prevent certain eye problems. When a baby is born the health of its eye is subject to a lot of factors which may be genetic or acquired. We may not have control over vision that are subject to genetic factors but when it comes to acquired, it is good to know measures to take on how to maintain and where possible improve our eyesight.
Dr Lilan Lucky, Medical Director, Rhema Eye Centre, Satellite Town, Lagos, said, “for this pair of eyes each of us has been given for an entire lifetime, knowing what to do to maintain them is key. Some of them are as follows:
Eat green leafy vegetables (these are known to help avoid macular desecration. Example of such vegetables are spinach, pumpkin leaves, lettuce, fish such as salmon, tuna. Titus are rich in omega 3 fatty acid which improve eye sight. The flavonoids in chocolates helps protect blood vessels in the eye. Eggs contain protein that are beneficial to the lens of the eyes. This could in the long term prevent cataract. Oranges, grape fruits, lemons and berries are high in vitamin C which may also reduce the risk of cataract and macular degeneration.
Almonds,cashews and peanut helps to reduce dry eyes and some eye diseases. Tomatoes are also excellent sources of vitamin C which are parked with carotenoids. This helps prevent light induced damage to the retina. Carrots and pawpaw are high in vitamin A, a nutrient essential for good vision. Lutein in avocados helps to maintain healthy eye sight as we age, .lean beef can boost eye health, beef contains zinc which helps the body absorb vitamin A, onion and corn are also helpful. It is advisable that all food and fruits should be taken in moderation.
Behaviours we exhibit over time can help to maintain or destroy our vision. Healthy lifestyle is important for general eye health, the healthier the body in general, the healthier the eyes and vision. A strong immune system helps maintain eye health by enabling the eyes to better withstand viral and bacterial infections such as bacteria or viral conjunctivitis and keratitis. So, even if one was to have these eye diseases, recovery periods will be faster even in trauma cases.
Lifestyles that is encouraged are regular exercises, not strenuous but enough to raise the heart rate,swimming and generally anything that raises the level of physical activities. Note that without exercises, ones risk for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes are higher which are in turn important risk factors for retinal vein occlusion(RVO). RVO causes visual loss from macular edema, retinal haemorrhage, vitreous haemorrhage and tractional retinal detachment. Being overweight can also increase ones chances of idiopathic intracranial hypertension which affects as much as 10 per cent of the human population causing them to loose their sight permanently.
This can have negative effect on the eyesight, alcohol weakens the eye muscle and this can cause permanent blurring or even double vision. It also affects vitamin absorption rate in the liver, it can cause deficiencies in certain vitamins and nutrients that lead to poorer eye sight. Scientists in recent times have discovered that alcohol can affect the eyes ability to detect differences in dark and light conditions by up to 30 per cent.
Rest and relaxation also helps in maintaining eye health, stress may affect eye health by triggering certain eye problem such as uveitis and central serous chorioetinopathy.
Smoking should be reduced to the bearest minimum or better still avoided at all cost, chemicals contained within cigarette and cigar smoke are toxic on virtually all systems in the body and are very damaging to the eye health. There are harmful chemicals including tobacco specific nitrosamines(TSNAS), benzene pesticides, arsenic and cadmium cyanide. These toxins circulate all around the body and cause oxidative damage to the crystalline lens and other parts of the eye. Smoking reduces the ability of your body and eye to fight infection.The chemicals in cigarette smoke irritate the eyes and exacerbate symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
Smoking worsens cataract, glaucoma, age related macular generation and diabetic retinopathy. Smoking is also a trigger factor for uveitis. If all this problems doesn’t affect the smoker in the mid term it will surely affect it in the long term, be sure about that.
Though technology can make life easier and more interactive, it still has the potential to cause damage to your eyes. Most of us know what’s its like to stare into a computer screen for extended period of time and how it can make your eyes feel terrible. Symptoms of this can include dry eyes,blurred vision ,fatigue etc. Avoid this by sitting far away from screen up to 4 to 5 inches below your eye level. Adjust the brightness of your screen to reduce the glare coming off your screen . Remember to apply the 20-20-20 rule, which is every 20 minute, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Our smart phones emit harmful blue light which can easily damage the retina if we are glued to the screens all day. It is recommended to blink frequently while starring at the screen, reduce the brightness of the light of the phone, keep the phone at a distance from the eyes while using it, take small breaks,use anti glare protectors like anti-light spectacles.
Use protective eye wears when working in environment where harmful objects or sparks are emitted or flies into the atmosphere. Regular visit to your eye doctor help prevent age-related occular condition. People over 40 years should have yearly eye exam and children should have their first eye exam as early as possible. When visiting your eye doctor, it is important to give a thorough and accurate health history,mention your lifestyle,hobbies and leisure activities you like. This will help the doctor to make correct recommendations for correcting vision and keeping your eyes healthy.
For those who use contact lenses be sure to replace your contact lens cases every 2 to 3 months,this will help to prevent contact lens related eye diseases. Contact lens weares should use rewetting or lubricating eye drops before boarding the airlpane because the quality of air there is drier than normal and could cause eye irritation, also bring along an extra pair of lens and glasses . Never expose contact lenses in swimming pools or hot tub water because they are full of irritating chemicals and bacteria that can cause infection.
Drinking lots of water helps keep ones eye hydrated. always wear a pair of sunglasses with UV filters in sunny environment.In summary, eating right and living sensibly is a must to enjoy optimum vision in our life time.