Making the Most of Your Assets!
Throughout history, the human eye has always been revered as an indication of an individual’s overall beauty and allure. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Aztecs used kohl, plant and insect extracts to enhance their eyes, the resulting effect considered to be a sign of status as well as beauty. Indeed, according to 18th century poet, William Blake, “the eyes are the windows of the soul” and to the present day women in the 16-65 age group still spend an average of Â£2,000 per year on make-up. That amounts to a staggering Â£100,000 over the course of a lifetime!
However, on a more serious note, and according to research, 84% of people fear losing their sight more than any of their other senses and the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) has estimated that 50% of the eye diseases currently suffered in the UK could have been avoided, with that figure leaping to 80% globally. Unfortunately, as with most things we use all the time, we tend to take healthy eyes and good vision for granted. It has been estimated that 20 million of us are putting our eyesight at risk by not following Royal College of Ophthalmologists guidelines to have regular eye tests every two years and therefore also risk joining the 1.8 million people in the UK already suffering from loss of vision.
So how can we go about taking the best possible care of our ocular health and maintaining good vision on a daily basis without being influenced by urban myths or the latest celebrity trends?
Fact or Fiction?
How many of us can remember being told as a veggie-hating 6-year-old that eating carrots would make us “see in the dark”? And which teenage boy has not faced the embarrassing lecture from his mother that too much masturbation would make him “go blind”? Well, as it happens, carrots are a great source of Vitamin A which has been shown to promote healthy eyesight by reducing the instances of xerophtalmia, a drying of the eyes which can affect the cornea and ultimately lead to blindness. As for the other, perhaps more sensitive issue, although semen contains large amounts of zinc which, if deficient in the body can lead to a decline in vision, expert opinion indicates that masturbation alone will not be sufficient to cause any loss of sight. Phew!
A healthy diet rich in antioxidants, Omega 3 fats, vitamins and minerals will definitely help to protect against the onset of eye disease and preventable conditions. Research has shown that eating leafy green vegetable, linseed and oily fish combined with supplements such as zinc, and Vitamins A,C and E can help counteract the onset of ARMD (age related macular degeneration). Eating well and exercising regularly can also protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes which is also a major contributor to vision loss.
Another big no-no when it comes to keeping your eyes healthy is smoking. Studies have shown that smokers are 4 times more likely to go blind in old age and 3 times more likely to contract ARMD or cataracts.
We hear it all the time – eat healthily, exercise regularly and quit smoking. Boring maybe, but if you really value your sight, it has to be worth it, doesn’t it?
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks
Obviously, you will need to do more than just watch what you eat to keep your eyes healthy and your vision 20/20. For the budding Nick Knowles amongst you who enjoy a little DIY in your spare time, or for those who earn their living in the building trade, remember to protect your eyes as you work. Splashing paint, splintering projectiles and metal shards are an ever-present risk so be sure to wear safety goggles or a full face mask whenever you work.
For those who are following our tips and taking regular exercise such as squash, tennis, hockey or basketball, don’t think you can get complacent either. Sports related eye injuries number in excess of 200,000 annually so make sure you use a pair of polycarbonate glasses with good side coverage to protect yourself.
Even if your exercise is limited to hitting Topshop during your lunch hour or walking to the local Pret to get your BLT, remember your eyes still need protecting – and the best way to do this is to wear some UV protection sunglasses. You don’t need to look as if you are channelling your inner Victoria Beckham but even on a cloudy day you can reduce the intensity of UV rays hitting your eyes and guard against the onset of ARMD, cataracts and pterigium (tumours on the cornea). Look for a good quality model which carries the CE or BSEN 1836:1997 British Standard marks.
Strange but True!
Finally, a few facts about our eyes which may go some way to explaining just how amazing they are; or at least give you some questions for the next pub quiz!
Did you know that the expression “in the blink of an eye” is derived from the fact that the eye muscle is the fastest muscle in the body and that we blink, on average, 17 times a minute or even more when we are talking or aroused?
The eye contains a staggering 107 million light-sensitive cells, weighs 0.25 ounces and measures 1″ across.
Using our vision is such a complex process that it takes two-thirds of our brain to cope with the operation in the course of the day.
Blue-eyed people will share a common ancestry with every other blue-eyed individual on the planet; so if you ever felt a strong affinity to Ryan Gosling or Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz or Angelina Jolie, it’s not your hormones, it’s your eye colour!