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What you can do to look after your eyes

It is a common belief that how well we see is down to genes and age. In truth, many of us can help keep our eyes healthy with some simple lifestyle habits.

Eat for your eyes

Did you know that vitamins, minerals and carotenoids found in fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods can help protect your sight and keep your eyes healthy? The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) suggests eating a diet low in saturated fats but rich in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli may help delay the progression of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research has also shown that eating one portion per week of cold-water fish such as cod, sardines or tuna (which are excellent sources of DHA and Omega-3 fatty acids) may reduce your risk of AMD by up to 40%.

Adopt these three healthy habits

As well as healthy eating, there are three further lifestyle habits that make a difference to eye health:

  • Exercise helps reduce the risk of sight loss that can occur due to high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and diabetes. Aim for 150 minutes of activity a week. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists gives the science behind this here

  • Alcohol consumption within the recommended levels is also important. Alcohol abuse can lead to progressive optic neuropathy – which in short means loss or deterioration of sight.

  • Stop smoking – smokers are much more likely to develop AMD and cataracts than non-smokers, according to the NHS.

Mind the sun

UV exposure can damage your eyes so take care in the summer, in hotter countries and also where there are reflective surfaces such as snow or water. The RNIB says that high exposure to UV rays is a risk factor for the development of cataracts. Seek out sunglasses with a CE mark (and/or British Standard BS EN ISO 12312-1), which show they’re made to an agreed safety standard.

Take daily care

Estimates put UK adult screen-use time between seven1 and nine-and-a-half2 hours per day. Screen fatigue can cause eyes to become sore, dry and irritated as well as causing headaches and blurred vision. A good rule of thumb is 20/20/20: every 20 minutes look away from your computer screen at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Have regular eye tests

Most people need an eye test every two years although people with a family history of eye conditions, those who have already been diagnosed with an eye issue and people over 40 of Afro-Caribbean or Asian origin may need more frequent testing. See more about eye tests here.