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Your eyes allow you to see colour, light, landscapes, buildings and the faces of those you love. Unless you’ve had a problem with your eyes, it’s easy to take them for granted.
For many people, the eyes are a crystal clear way to experience the world and yet even though the eyes allow you to see, you often can’t ‘see’ if there is a problem with your eyes.
Although you may associate your 40th birthday as a landmark towards middle age, which signals the coming of wrinkles and grey hairs, it is also the age that eye problems tend to develop, according to new research. Wrinkles may be a harmless, yet noticeable sign of aging on your body but it’s inside your body, where the eye can’t see, that the problems develop.
The causes of eye problems range from genetic to environmental and although you can’t change your genes, you can change your diet and habits. Unless you have an accident, eye problems develop over years or decades, so right from birth up until your forties you should be taking care to look out for your eyes.
How to look after your eyes:
The Outdoors Vs. The Computer Screen
Research by the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology has shown that spending time outdoors could minimise near-sightedness. Your eyes need exercise too and so looking at a variety of depths is very beneficial.
Admittedly, it’s not always possibly to work outdoors. Many people work in offices, which can put enormous strain on the eyes, if you’re not careful. For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, you should have an eye break of around 20 seconds, in which you look at something that is at least 20 feet away. This is the perfect excuse to look at out of the window and let your mind wander for a bit!
Shade Yourself From the Sun’s Harmful Rays
UV rays can be harmful to eyes at any age, so it’s best to get in the habit of protecting them from an early age. Wearing a sun hat or sunglasses is the best way to ensure your eyes are shielded. When choosing your shades, try to get a sun protection factor of between 25 and 50.
It’s good to know that if you have sunglasses with E-SPF of 25, you are 25 times more protected than if you were without shades at all.
You can also protect your eyes simply by including some eye-friendly foods in your diet. Among the many other health benefits of green vegetables, they are also beneficial to your eyes. Foods like broccoli, spinach and kale contain carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which reduce the risk of eye problems.
Also, foods containing Omega-3s such as fish and nuts are said to help protect your eyes. The effects are particularly noticeable in women in their 50s.
A Healthy Lifestyle
As with most health problems, a healthy lifestyle gives you a head start in terms of aging. Those who lead healthier lives as adults are more likely to be healthier in their old age.
Along with the many other detrimental effects to your health, smoking can damage your eyesight. Another important factor of eye health is regular exercise as this improves blood circulation and oxygen intake, which is very important for maintaining healthy eyes.
And lastly, make sure you have a good night’s sleep. Sleep is a very important time for your body. You may think you are doing nothing, but it’s an opportunity for our body to rebuild and repair. At night, your eyes are continuously lubricated to remove dust and any other irritants that settled there during the day.
What to do if you’re at the crucial age
If you hit forty and have never previously had any eye problems, then now might be the time to get a check-up. When you reach this age it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly as many eye problems can go unnoticed for a long time. Be particularly wary if you are prone to headaches or you feel your eyes lack the ability to focus, as this could be the beginning of an eye problem.
As we get older, it is inevitable that our eyes will deteriorate and this slow decline is most commonly tackled by getting glasses for reading or driving. However, if you feel you might need this, don’t diagnose yourself, go to an optician and get professional advice.
It’s best to avoid ‘off the shelf’ reading glasses in supermarkets because often you can end up with the wrong level of strength and if you wear stronger glasses than you need, it can actually cause the health of your eyes to deteriorate more quickly. Also, be aware that different glasses are needed for reading from a computer, as opposed to reading from a book and so it’s best to consult a professional to see what kind of glasses your eyes need.
Your eyes won’t stay perfect forever, but if you take the time to look after them, they are more likely to stay healthy in your old age.
Do you have any tips for maintaining eye health?
Bio: Gavin Harvey is a fitness and health enthusiast, always on the lookout for new ways to keep his body and mind in top shape. He recommends Valley Optics.