Our eyes are a mysterious, complex and wonderful part of our body – and often overlooked when it comes to health! My eyes have seen fireworks, waterfalls, palm trees, oceans, flowers in bloom, sunsets, friends, and family….and until now I’ve never really stopped to admire just how gosh darn amazing eyes are. But I’ve recently learned that I can’t take eyesight for granted.
After getting benefits at work I went on a health spending spree and went to the dentist, ophthalmologist, and registered massage therapist all within about 2 weeks. Why not! I hadn’t been to the eye doctor in oh, about 20 years. I thought my eyesight was top notch, but after I couldn’t manage to read the 3rd line of the letter chart, I was surprised, disappointed, and in shock that I hadn’t checked my eyes in so long. To freak me out more, I have a family history of retinal detachment, and the doctor mentioned that this was hereditary! Noooooooooooooo 😦 😦
Imagining myself going through laser eye treatments and microscopic stitches to glue a retina back on makes me dizzy.
SO, long story short, this post is dedicated to everyone who wants to rekindle their love affair with their eyes. They’ve always been there for you. And I’ve been on a mission to discover and start implementing the best eye-friendly foods and practices I can find! Here are my top tips to keep your eyes bright and healthy for years and years 🙂
Carrots and Pumpkin – it’s true that vitamin A (most commonly found in carrots and other orange-pigmented foods) is absolutely necessary for proper eye functioning, including helping the eye absorb and process light, colour and avoiding night-blindness (or blindness in general). Focus on getting your correct amount of Vitamin A through beta-carotene rich foods, which your body will naturally convert to vitamin A as needed. Raw or freshly juiced carrots and pumpkin (pureed is nice!) are great sources. I want to mention an umbrella of antioxidants, which vitamin A is a part of. Your eyes are constantly exposed to oxidation because your lenses are constantly exposed to light and air. Vitamin A, C, E and Zinc are therefore important for eye health.
Pomegranates and Blueberries – these 2 superfruits contain loads of antioxidants and bioflavanoids, necessary for eye functioning, protection, and healing. They are also important for nourishing and keeping flexible the arteries that supply the eye with nutrients. Fresh is best, but you can also buy frozen or powdered versions of these fruits to add to smoothies or water.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin – antioxidants that help protect against macular degeneration
Bilberry – another berry lookin like the blueberry, but isn’t! Contains vitamin C and shown to improve retinal health.
Eyebright Herb – A traditional herb to improve eye health. Can be used homeopathically or in capsules. Always check with your MD in case you’re allergic or need advice on contraindications.
Top Lifestyle Changes
Wear Sunglasses – I’m guilty of thinking sunglasses should only be worn when trying to look cool. I’ve gone outside for years squinting in the sun, thinking “oh boy, this sunshine sure is helping my eyes become stronger! The more I squint the more powerful they become” like some sort of deluded X-Men character. But this is FALSE….and will also guarantee me some serious eye wrinkles when I’m older. Exposure to sunlight can damage the cornea, leading to cataracts. Invest in some good quality shades with UV-A and UV-B protection.
Limit Screen Time – as I write this I’m painfully aware of the minutes passing by as I stare at the screen completing this post. I just turned down the brightness, that should help right? Officially, follow the 20-20-20 rule: “Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away” – from this Doctors of Optometry Canada helpful list.
Carefully Choose your Makeup – eyeliner and mascara practically touch your eyeballs, and the last thing you want to do is put stuff on them that can be dangerous or toxic. Avoid at all costs makeup that uses coal tar, colour additives (like kohl – can contain LEAD) or cheap adhesives. Here’s the FDA’s suggestions for eye cosmetics.