There is a long list of sayings and quotes about the eyes. The earliest account is from biblical times, in the King James version of the bible Mathew 6: 22 reads, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23: But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great the light!”
The Roman philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero, was known to say: The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter. Most people have heard the quote: “The eyes are the window to the soul.”
During 2020, more people spent time on computers, watching TV, playing video games, being on Zoom calls, learning online, talking online, browsing online, shopping online than in previous years. So many of the world’s population had to make it their new reality. Once again, our lives have become so enmeshed in the computer and other devices that we are afraid not to have it “on.” If we are spending so much of our time online, then what has happened to health of our eyes.
Are your eyes tired, sore, red, inflamed, scratchy, itchy, dry, just old fashioned tired perhaps? Do you keep going hoping that things will improve or is it time to step back and check in with yourself about the messages your eyes are telling you? These are symptoms that are telling you something is wrong. It is how we interpret the symptoms that will help resolve the issue. Possible problems that may be starting are presbyopia, glaucoma, dry eyes, age related macular degeneration, cataracts and temporal arthritis to name but a few. Ignoring it, might not be the best remedy.
I see the eyes as a reflection of one’s state of mind, physical and emotional health.
When you feel good, energised, excited about life, and have a good night’s sleep, more often than not, someone will say, you look great. Your eyes are conveying how you feel.
During 2020, and now in 2021, masks are still being worn by millions of people around the world. Your eyes are more than at any other time the first connection to communication. Of course, when we meet people, it is polite to look at them and greet them and we want them to see us, really see us.
Here are some simple steps to make sure your eyesight is at its best. When your vision is at its best you perform well at work home, play, sport, driving and watching beautiful sunsets, no matter what your age.
First let’s look at food. Reducing sugar and staying away from highly processed foods will give your overall health a boost. Foods that can assist in eye health come in different categories, that have many of the different vitamins or minerals required for healthy eyes.
Vitamins and food
For eyes specifically the list starts with lutein and zeaxanthin. These are called carotenoids and are related to beta-carotene and vitamin A. Your body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, a nutrient that helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness. Beta carotene and vitamin A also may help reduce the risk of eye infections. These foods are carrots, sweet potato, eggs, especially the yolk, broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, butternut squash, orange peppers, kiwi fruit, grapes, peas, orange juice, zucchini, papaya’s, squash and liver. Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining a clear cornea, which is the outside covering of your eye.
Lutein is also thought to be part of the light filter, protecting the eye tissue from sunlight damage. Lutein is absorbed better when eaten with good fat, so a little extra olive oil will go a long way.
Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants, and these protect your eyes from what is known as damaging free radicals. The reason vitamin C is so important it is required to make collagen, a protein that provides structure to your eye, especially the cornea and sclera. Ongoing studies suggest that vitamin C may reduce the risk of cataracts.
Foods high in vitamin C are citrus, tropical fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, nuts, seeds and strawberries. Foods high in vitamin E are salmon, avocado, leafy greens, nuts and cooking oils.
Omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in eye health. The cell membrane of the retina contains a high concentration of DHA, a particular type of Omega 3. Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties which may help prevent diabetic retinopathy. Research continues in this area especially around macular degeneration and cataracts. Foods that are high in omega 3 are fish, especially salmon, sardines, tune, anchovies, flaxseed, chia seeds, soy and nuts, good cold pressed olive oil.
Zinc is an important mineral for the health of the retina, cell membranes and protein structure of the eye. Zinc has an important role allowing vitamin A to travel from the liver to the retina, to produce melanin. That is the pigment that protects the eye from UV light. Studies show decreased levels of zinc or zinc deficiency may lead to night blindness.
Foods high in zinc: oysters, beef, lobster, pork, yoghurt, naked beans, dry roasted cashews.
A healthy beverage to have next to you when working on the computer is green tea. It contains catechins, which are responsible for antioxidant actions in the body, especially your eyes. Apples and cherries are also in this category and great to snack on.
Water: never underestimate the power of water and the impact that it has on the wellbeing of our cells. Not only for our eyes but our overall health.
Quit smoking. Smoking causes the optic nerve to become damaged, increases risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Preventative measures to help your eyes are to wear sunglasses. Wraparound lenses protect from both sides, look for a pair of sunglasses that block 99% – 100% of UV rays. Another helpful part of decreasing your chances of cataracts or macular degeneration. It is now possible to get contact lenses with some UV protection, however it is still preferable to wear sunglasses.
Never underestimate injuries that can happen to the eyes when performing odd jobs around the home, or at work if you are in a situation of machinery, etc. Safety goggles are to be worn with airborne materials or hazardous environment in a factory for example. Anytime chemical solutions are used, wearing protective eye equipment is a priority. In many sports they wear protective head ware and also protective sports goggles.
The computer, handheld devices, etc., are next on the list. Extended periods of time can cause any or all of the following.
Trouble focusing at a distance
Shoulder pain and tension, neck and back pain
Here are some helpful tips for working on a computer or devices:
Make sure if you wear prescription glasses they are up to date. I have just received my new prescription glasses and they make all the difference, and the change was only minor. It is now possible to have computer glasses, that help with the distance between where you sit and where your computer is placed. It is best to get have this done professionally by your eye specialist.
Set you chair high enough that you are in line with the top of the monitor. You should be looking ever so slightly down at the screen.
Make sure your chair is comfortable and supports you. Your feet are flat on the ground or place a box or a foot stool, so your feet are not dangling under the chair. Be careful if sitting on a high stool. Make sure you have a rung that your feet are resting on.
Blink if your eyes are dry or scratchy to see if that elevates the situation. If this persists, check the other items on this list and if no relief see a medical professional. Make sure there is no glare on the screen or use a guard if possible. I use a programme on my computer that changes the light depending on the time of day or night. It works from your location. It has made huge difference in my eye health. From the early inception of the computer, the recommendation was to rest your eyes every 20 minutes. To rest your eyes, it is best to look 20 feet into the distance away from the computer or device. The next step was to get up every 2 hours and take a 15 minute break, to rest your eyes away from the screen.
A simple way to balance all that is required for eye health is to follow a few simple health tips. Twice a week, have fish in your diet along with five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. When not eating fish, make sure you have protein every day.
Take time to not only rest your eyes by looking away from a computer or device but take time to look around. Really look around. Answer this question. What is the colour of your front door? Could you answer the question immediately or did you have to think about it? What do we really see when we look around? Do we quickly glance and not take in that what is around us! There is so much to see, to really see, colours of the sky, buildings, clothes, watching children play or looking at another sunset. Give your eyes a gift and truly see what is around you.
‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” by Marcel Proust
Health and Happiness