5 Habits for a Lifetime of Good Eye Health
Feb 21, 2016 12:16PM
By Pamela Johnson
Most of us are familiar with the healthy habits necessary to promote a high quality of life – whether we put them into practice or not. What some may not realize is that many of these common-sense teachings not only prevent disease, they also keep vital organs, such as your eyes, in tip-top shape.
“Your quality of life is closely linked to how well you see,” said Lisa Shin, an optometrist and VSP provider based in Los Alamos, New Mexico. “You can take steps now to take care of your eyes and preserve your vision well into old age.”
Protect your eyesight and keep your eyes healthy for years to come with these tips:
Eat a healthy diet. Research shows that certain foods can boost eye health and ward off age-related eye changes, such as macular degeneration. To keep your eyes in the best shape, Shin recommends incorporating eye-boosting vitamins and minerals into your diet, such as lutein and zeaxanthin (found in broccoli, corn, squash, peppers, spinach and kale); vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, melons, tomatoes and broccoli); vitamin E (found in legumes, wheat germ, nuts and seeds); zinc (found in whole grains); and omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon).
Reduce time in the sun. Cataracts are the most common cause of age-related vision loss in adults. Because the sun's ultraviolet rays can increase your risk of developing cataracts, it’s important to take precautions to shield your eyes from the sun. Shin recommends wearing UV protective eyewear, as well as a wide-brimmed hat.
Quit smoking. It’s a no-brainer that smoking is bad for your heart and lungs, but did you realize that it can also damage your eyesight? “Smoking harms nearly every bodily organ, including the eyes,” Shin said. “Cigarette smokers are at greater risk of developing both macular degeneration and cataracts.”
Exercise regularly. Aside from keeping your waistline trim, regular exercise can also keep your eyes sharp. A study in the “British Journal of Ophthalmology” found that those who led an active lifestyle were 70 percent less likely to develop macular degeneration. Participants in the study walked at least two miles a day, but even just 30 minutes of walking a day can go a long way toward keeping your entire body in good shape.
Get an annual eye exam. Even if you think you have impeccable vision, it’s still imperative to schedule an annual eye check-up. The eyes provide a surprising number of clues about your overall health. By simply peering into your eyes, your eye doctor can detect a broad array of health conditions – from hypertension to diabetes – that you might not even be aware you have.
You only have one set of eyes, so it’s crucial to take the proper steps to care for them. By nourishing your body with the right foods, getting regular exercise and going in for regular eye exams, you can keep your vision sharp at any age.
For more on the importance of eye health and for information on VSP Direct vision insurance, which costs as little as $17 per month, visit VSPIndividualPlans.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images