Five essential summer eye care tips: How to take care of your eyes this summerTuesday 27 June 2023
Summer is synonymous with sunny days, and time spent in the garden, but it's also a time when our eyes need extra protection. Increased exposure to sunlight can all take a toll on our eye health. On this National Sunglasses Day, we invite you to delve into our comprehensive guide on safeguarding your eyes this season. From choosing the perfect pair of sunglasses to dietary choices that can boost your vision, we've got you covered. Read on for our five essential summer eye care tips.
Choosing the right sunglasses
Selecting a perfect pair of sunglasses involves more than just style and aesthetic preference. To ensure optimal eye protection, it's essential to consider various features. Here's what you need to know:
1. UV Protection: Look for sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation. Prolonged exposure to these rays can lead to serious eye health issues such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
2. Lens Colour: Contrary to popular belief, the colour of the lens doesn't indicate the level of UV protection. However, certain colours can offer benefits for specific conditions. For example, brown or amber lenses can enhance contrast and may be beneficial for people with macular degeneration.
3. Polarisation: Polarised lenses can reduce glare from surfaces like water, snow, and glass, making them a good choice for outdoor sports or driving. However, they can also make it difficult to see LCD screens, such as your car's dashboard or mobile phone.
4. Lens Material: Polycarbonate lenses are highly impact-resistant and are a good choice for people who play sports, work in a job that can be rough on the eyes, or have kids who are often tough on their shades.
5. Frame Shape: Wrap-around frames provide excellent peripheral vision and are ideal for active people. On the other hand, large-framed sunglasses can provide more UV protection by blocking rays that come in from the side.
6. Blue Light Protection: Some sunglasses offer blue light protection, which may reduce your risk of macular degeneration.
Don't forget that price doesn't always reflect the quality of UV protection. Even less expensive pairs marked as 100% UV-blocking can be just as effective as their pricier counterparts. When it comes to selecting the right sunglasses, awareness and information are the keys to making the right choice.
Balanced diet for better vision
What you consume plays a significant role in the health of your eyes. Maintaining a balanced, nutrient-rich diet can help to bolster eye health and reduce the risk of sight-threatening conditions. Incorporate foods that are rich in antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, and E, along with minerals such as Zinc and Selenium. Here’s a breakdown of some nutrients to look for, what they do, and what foods they can be found in.
Vitamin A: This is a group of antioxidants that includes beta-carotene. It is essential for vision as it helps the retina absorb light. A lack of Vitamin A can lead to difficulty seeing in low light or darkness. You can find Vitamin A in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale.
Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects against damaging UV rays and helps maintain the connective tissues in the eyes. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli.
Vitamin E: This antioxidant defends against damage caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging and disease, and can help reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration and cataract formation. Foods rich in Vitamin E include nuts and seeds, spinach, and broccoli.
Zinc: This essential trace mineral helps bring vitamin A from the liver to the retina to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. It’s also associated with improved vision and may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Zinc can be found in oysters, beef, lobster, pork, and beans.
Selenium: An essential mineral, selenium works with Vitamin E to prevent oxidative damage in the eyes and may help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Foods like Brazil nuts, seafood, and brown rice are good sources of Selenium.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These healthy fats are known to fight inflammation and help with tear production, preventing dry eyes. They also aid in the prevention of macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome. Foods rich in Omega-3s include fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as flaxseeds and chia seeds.
Regular eye check-ups
With the increase in digital screen time and exposure to harsh lights, our eyes are more strained than ever. Regular eye exams can help detect eye conditions like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration early. Even if you feel you have perfect vision, an annual eye check-up should be part of your health routine.
Limit screen time and practice the 20-20-20 rule
With the rise of digital devices, our eyes are under constant strain from looking at screens. This can lead to digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome. To give your eyes a much-needed break, adopt the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes of screen time, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Stay hydrated and use lubricating eye drops if needed
Our bodies require sufficient hydration for overall health, and our eyes are no exception. Hydration helps maintain a healthy balance of fluid in the eye, which can prevent or alleviate dry eyes. Drink plenty of water, especially in the summer heat. If you're prone to dry eyes, over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears, can provide added relief. Remember to discuss with your optician or pharmacist before starting any new eye drops.
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