Our eyes are our window to the world. They show us our surroundings and fill our lives with light and color. What we see helps shape our beliefs, identities, and knowledge of things we care about.
For something as common as vision, it’s easy to take our eyes for granted. But these delicate—yet powerful—organs need care, no matter what your lifestyle looks like.
Fortunately, for most people eye care is pretty simple. Take a look at the tips below to make sure you’re doing what you need to to support your eye health.
You already know the importance of sunscreen, but are you as diligent at protecting your eyes as you are your skin? The sun provides life-giving light that helps us see and makes things grow—but too much of a good thing can cost you. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that block at least 99% of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
You might already pull out those shades when the sun is shining directly in your eyes, but more consistent protection is better. Because, yes, our eyes can get sunburned, which can cause dry eyes, redness, swelling, and even vision loss. It’s best to wear sunglasses any time you’re outside (or driving) during the day, especially from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their most powerful.
Be sure to wear appropriate eye protection any time foreign objects may threaten your eyes as well, like during sports, construction, or yard work.
Eat the right nutrients
Your diet and lifestyle can have long-term effects on your eye health and vision. Vitamins A, C, and E are especially important for eye health, as well as carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to support eye health, too.
These nutrients come from a variety of sources. Eat from this list as often as you can:
Dark, leafy greens (spinach, kale)
Oily fish (salmon, tuna)
Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit)
Non-meat protein sources (eggs, nuts, beans)
Spend less time looking at screens
Adults spend an average of seven hours a day looking at a screen, with some getting 11 or more hours of screen time per day. With screens being the center of what allows many of us to do our jobs, communicate with others, and be entertained, it’s fair to say that our eyes are under too much strain caused by artificial light.
One of the reasons screens put strain on our eyes is because when we’re staring at a screen, we don’t blink as much. Anyone who has ever watched a kid transfixed by whatever is on TV has seen this in action. Blinking helps keep our eyes lubricated and normally happens without us noticing and once those screens turn on, we don’t notice we’re blinking less, either. Blinking helps keep our eyes lubricated, so when you blink less, you may experience dry eyes, headaches, and blurry vision. As silly as it sounds, you’re going to need to remind yourself to blink more often if you’re a heavy screen user.
Of course, reducing screen time where you can is the best way to reduce eye strain caused by blue light. Avoid the temptation to pull out your phone every time there’s a lull in conversation or you’re standing in line at the grocery store. Don’t watch as much TV. If you work on a computer all day, try to step away from your desk for a few minutes every hour.
If screen time is a regular fixture in your life, remember the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help ease the strain on your eyes. Do it right now, and then read the next section.
Schedule regular eye exams
Whether you have perfect vision or got your first pair of glasses in elementary school, regular eye check-ups are an important part of maintaining healthy eyes, especially since not all vision problems show symptoms right away. By having regular exams, you’ll be able to catch these problems early and start to treat them before they disrupt your life.
Smoking has harmful effects on the whole body, including your eyes. It can harm the optic nerve and increase your chances of having vision problems in the future. You may not hear about eye health being a reason people decide to quit smoking, but considering how important our eyes are to day-to-day life, perhaps it’s something we should be focusing on more.
Care for your eyes and your future
The 21st century provides more opportunities and conveniences than any century before it. But it comes with some drawbacks, one of those being that we have to be more mindful about certain aspects of our health, like our eyes. Whether you live and die by technology, spend your days soaking up the sun’s rays, or do some iteration of both, eye and vision care are more important than ever to help you live the kind of life you want.