How Can I Improve My Eye Health?

Reviewed on 6/25/2022
A woman having her eyes checked by an ophthalmologist
Keeping your eyes healthy include getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam, learning your risk for eye diseases, takiing care of your overall health, and protecting your eyes with proper eyewear and hygiene.

There are many things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and protect your vision. Even if you have perfect vision, taking care of your eyes and protecting them against injury or infection are important parts of maintaining eye health.

4 Main Ways to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

1. Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam 

Many eye diseases have no signs or symptoms, which makes it important to see an eye doctor regularly. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating eyes and eye diseases. Your eye doctor can perform a dilated eye exam, which is the only way to check for certain eye conditions so they can be treated early

What to expect:

  • The pupil is dilated (widened) using special eye drops
  • It takes about 15-30 minutes after getting the drops for the pupil to dilate
  • While dilated, the doctor can see the entire retina inside the eye, which is not visible when the pupil is small
  • This allows the doctor to diagnose certain eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal tear or detachment, or ocular tumors
  • Having a dilated pupil can cause light sensitivity and blurred vision, and it can take four to six hours for the effects of the drops to wear off

See an eye doctor at least every two years for a checkup

2. Learn your risk for eye diseases 

Many different conditions and factors can make you more likely to have various eye diseases and problems. Risk factors for some eye diseases include: 

3. Take care of your overall health

When you take steps to keep your entire body healthy, your eyes will benefit as well. This can include the following health tips:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet 
    • Eat plenty of dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens
    • Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, and halibut 
  • Get regular physical activity 
  • Don’t smoke
    • Smoking increases the risk of eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts

4. Protect your eyes 

Take care of your eyes by using proper hygiene, sunglasses, artificial tears, and giving them a good rest to protect them from long-term damage, infection, and more.

  • Wear sunglasses to block UVA and UVB radiation to help prevent conditions linked to UV exposure, such as cataracts and macular degeneration
  • Wear protective eyewear such as safety glasses and goggles during activities such as sports, construction work, or home repairs
  • Rest your eyes
    • Looking at a computer screen for an extended time can tire the eyes
    • Use the “20-20-20” rule: Take a break every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds to rest your eyes
    • Special computer glasses can help reduce eye strain from looking at a computer screen for long periods
    • Use a matte filter to reduce glare
  • If your eyes feel dry, consider using artificial tears
  • For contact lens wearers, take steps to prevent eye infections
    • Wash hands every time before putting contact lenses in or taking them out
    • Disinfect and replace contact lenses regularly
    • Don’t sleep in contact lenses
    • Take a break and wear glasses sometimes 

What Nutrients are Important for Eye Health?

A healthy diet can help promote eye health by eating the right foods. Nutrients essential to eye health include: 

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A deficiency can cause problems with night vision and dry eye
  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant that helps ward off free radicals and possibly delay cataract formation, it has also been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration
  • Vitamin EAn antioxidant that has been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration
  • B vitaminsFolate, B6, and B12 may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and may also delay the onset of cataracts
  • Lutein: Can slow the progression of macular degeneration, help filter out blue light emitted by digital devices, and may delay cataract progression

What Foods Should I Eat to Improve Eye Health?

Foods to eat to improve eye health are those that contain essential nutrients for eye health, such as: 

  • Fatty fish 
  • Nuts
    • Almonds and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E
  • Seeds 
    • Contain essential fatty acids and can be a source of omega-3s for those that don’t eat fish
    • Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E
  • Citrus fruits 
    • Rich in vitamin C
    • Lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange
  • Dark, leafy greens
    • Spinach, kale, and collard greens contain vitamin C and lutein
  • Sweet potatoes 
    • Contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and lutein
  • Eggs 
    • Good source of vitamins C and E and lutein
  • Legumes
    • Great source of zinc 
    • Lentils, beans, and peas

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Reviewed on 6/25/2022

Image Source: iStock Images