South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)
Keep Your Eyes Healthy
There are many ways to keep your eyes safe and healthy. Did you know there are certain nutrients and minerals you need to keep your eyes healthy, improve their performance and help prevent certain eye conditions?
- Vitamin C - found in oranges and other citrus fruits - helps promote healthy capillaries. Virtually all cells of the body depend on it, including those of the eyes where it is actively concentrated in all tissues.
- Vitamin E - found in nuts, vegetable oils, etc - reduces the progression of cataract formation and other diseases. It also plays a significant role in the immune system, the health of cell membranes and DNA repair.
- Lutein + Zeaxanthin - found in green, leafy vegetables like kale and others - filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and act as antioxidants in the eye, helping protect and maintain healthy cells.
- Zinc - found in red meat, seafood, mixed nuts and legumes - is recommended for those diagnosedas high-risk for age related macular degeneration.
Other things you can do to help keep your eyes healthy are to protect them from computer strain. Because a lot of people spend a great amount of time in front of a computer screen, eye strain, from staring too long at the screen, has increased. Take the following steps to help reduce computer eye strain:
- Look away from the screen for a few minutes periodically. Try to look away for 2-3 minutes every 15-20 minutes, or 5 minutes every half hour. Shorter, more frequent breaks are better, so shoot for that 15-20 minute mark.
- Exercise your eyes to prevent your sight getting stuck in one focus mode. During those breaks, look at a far away object for 10-15 seconds, then look at something close for 10-15 seconds, then look back at the far away object. Repeat this 10 times.
- You can try "palming" your eyes, which relaxes them. Rub your hands together, vigorously, until they are hot, then gently cup them over your eyes, overlapping your fingers on your forehead, but don't press on your eyes. Breathe deeply and relax for at least 30 seconds.
- Blink! You blink, on average, 5 times less than normal, when working at a computer. Try this exercise - every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This helps rewet your eyes.
A few more things you can do is to protect your eyes from injury:
- Quit smoking - smoking has been linked to increased risk of cataracts, eye nerve damage and macular degeneration.
- Wear sunglasses - the right kind will help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Too much exposure to UV rays increases your risk of cataract and macular degeneration. Be sure to choose glasses that block 99 - 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound lenses help protect the eyes from the side, and polarized with help reduce glare when driving.
- Use safety eyewear when necessary - if you work with hazardous/airborne materials, wearing safety goggles can protect your eyes from injury, vision loss and blindness. In certain sports, there is also a risk of eye injury, so wearing eye protection in the form of helmets or sports goggles can help sheild your eyes.
You only have one set of eyes, so take care of them!