7 Tips For Healthy Eyes

21.08.2020 14:42

 

As we get older, we are regularly told by doctors, health magazines, relatives, and friends to take care of our liver, gut and heart. But something people often neglect on their quest for optimal health is their vision. Globally, nearly 250 million people suffer from varying degrees of vision loss – and the numbers have been rising over the past few years. [13]

 

There are a lot of things a lot of us do on a daily basis that can damage our eyes. The problem is that we do not necessarily realize that what we are doing is harmful for our vision. Especially because we don’t usually experience the resulting damage immediately. By staring at a computer screen all day you will most likely not go blind overnight. The deterioration process happens rather slowly, and the result might only become “visible” when it is possibly too late.

 

Luckily, there are a few things we can do to support our vision and keep our eyes happy and healthy into old age. And no worries, it’s not elaborate work or time we have to sacrifice. We merely need to make a couple of minor tweaks to our daily tasks and habits.

 

1 – Drink up!

 

Water is important for our general health, we all know that. Water is also a major component of the eyes. The movement of water through specialized water channels called aquaporins facilitates the removal of metabolic by-products, while maintaining transparency of the cornea and lens. [1] Dehydration caused by insufficient water intake [and high salt consumption] can thus led to serious damage as the mentioned waste products are not entirely removed and the body cannot produce enough tears to lubricate the eyes properly. Dehydration is associated with the development of various retinal disorders including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). [2] So make sure to always have some water nearby and keep the salt shaker at a safe distance.

 

2 – Catch some z’s

 

Ever wondered why your eyes hurt and feel itchy when you don’t get enough sleep? At night, our eyes recover from all the stress they went through during the day so that they can function properly the next day. They not only get a break from sending visual signals to the brain, they also become re-moisturized while we sleep. No wonder that sleep deprivation can cause blood vessels to burst and lead to dry eye disease. [3, 4] Keeping the bedroom dark, not watching TV right before going to sleep and hitting the bed on time are a few simple steps we can take that our eyes will surely thank us for.

 

3 – Wear sunglasses

 

Not only our skin needs sun protection. Ultraviolet (UV) light can also cause damage to our eyesight machinery and, in the long term, lead to ocular diseases such as cataracts and even eye cancer. [8] Wearing sunglasses especially during the summer months is crucial to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays. Nevertheless, not all sunglasses are created equal. The most important thing to look for when buying sunglasses is the label or tag that indicates the level of protection against UV exposure. They should block at least 99% of both UVA and UVB rays. Hint: Those cheap plastic sunglasses may look cool, but that is pretty much all they do. 

 

4 – Beware of eye makeup and its ingredients

 

Women may be shocked to hear that the mascara and eyeliner they put on daily may potentially cause a variety of eye problems. While applying the eye makeup, one can easily scratch the cornea accidently and thereby disrupt the delicate layer of tears that covers the outer part of the eye. This may, of course, not pose a problem for those experienced makeup gurus out there.

 

But scratching is not the only problem: Eye cosmetics can easily migrate onto the ocular surface. Several studies have demonstrated that eyeliner application at the inner eyelash line is associated with higher levels of tear film contamination and tear film instability leading to inflammation, eye infections and dry eye disease [5].

 

So, toss out eye makeup very 3-4 months to avoid contaminations, be careful when applying it and remove it before going to bed. Also check the ingredients of those products. Many contain synthetic preservatives and other undecipherable, harmful additives which we talk in detail about in this article. The same applies to eye hygiene and makeup removal products, by the way.

 

5 – Quit smoking

 

Everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, heart disease and other major health problems. It harms nearly every organ, including the eyes. In fact, tobacco smoking is associated with a broad range of eye conditions and visual impairment. Smoking increases the risk of eye diseases like cataracts, AMD, dry eyes, uveitis, and diabetic retinopathy. [6, 7,9] It’s not hard to believe that smokers are up to four times more likely to go blind in old age.

 

The toxic components found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke damage our blood vessels by contributing to plaque buildup and weak arteries [10] – and the blood vessels in our eyes are very delicate and thus very susceptible to such physiological changes. Good news, though: It's never too late to quit smoking. Quitting smoking at any age can significantly reduce the risk of developing the mentioned eye conditions, as well as other health problems.

 

6 – Take a break from screen time

 

Looking at computer, tablet, TV, and smartphone for a long period of time may not only make your eyes tired. The bright screens of such devices emit so-called blue light – which is more dangerous than it sounds. Blue light is high-energy visible light, that our visual sensory organs are not really designed to block effectively. Clinical studies indicate that blue light irradiation can result in photochemical damage of the retina and the accumulation of oxidative stress, which is a major risk factor for premature cell ageing. [11]

 

Reducing blue light exposure by reducing screen time is the first step to lower the risk associated with this short wavelength light. For people with an office job this may not be the most practical solution. Luckily, special “computer glasses” are available with lenses that filter blue light rays and thereby protect the retina from oxidative damage. [12] It’s also a good idea to take breaks and step away from the screen every now and again, ideally every 20 minutes.

 

 

7 – Nourish your eyes

 

One of the most important “ground rules” when it comes to good eye health is proper nutrition. Luckily, the same diet that is protective of our heart, liver, kidney etc. is also excellent for the eyes. Eating plenty of whole foods including grains, dark leafy greens, and fruits keeps our entire body including our eyes fit and healthy. These food groups contain eye health-supporting vitamins and minerals, as well as a variety of antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress.

 

The most important micronutrients that help maintain our vision are vitamins C, B2, E, and A, as well as zinc, beta-carotene (or pro-vitamin A), lutein and zeaxanthin. The latter two substances are probably not that well-known amongst the general population but may well be the most crucial eye nutrients. The two carotenoid pigments are particularly concentrated in the central region of the retina, referred to as the macula. They are capable of filtering the aforementioned harmful high-energy blue light and help protect the retina from the photo-oxidative damage. [14]

 

Unfortunately, the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in our diet is rather low. Foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin include spinach and other dark leafy vegetables, peas, pumpkin, orange peppers, corn, egg yolks and pistachios – but they certainly don’t land on our plates on a daily basis.

 

Luckily, several studies have discovered that supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin has the same eye-protective properties, and due to the high doses, they even offer increased protection and may enhance visual performance. [15, 16] In addition, higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet are associated with a lower incidence of AMD and cataracts. [17]

 

Our Vision Care Complex

 

With our Vision Care Complex we offer a high-quality supplement that includes all the mentioned vision-protecting nutrients and thus offers optimal eye support. We use mostly natural ingredients like polyphenol-rich persimmon extract, beta-carotene from carrot extract, fermentation-based vitamin B2, as well as highly bioavailable zinc citrate. We also added the branded raw material XanMax®, a high-grade marigold extract that provides a high dose of lutein and zeaxanthin. Lastly, we included the organic bilberry extract Feno-Myrtillus® that is rich in anthocyanins, antioxidants that have also shown to be effective in the protection against light-induced damage of the retina. [18]

 

Sources 
[1] Tran et al., Aquaporins in the Eye. Adv Exp Med Biol. (2017)
[2] Bringmann et al., Intake of dietary salt and drinking water: Implications for the development of age-related macular degeneration. Mol Vis (2016)
[3] Yu et al., Dry eye and sleep quality: a large community-based study in Hangzhou. Sleep. (2019)
[4] Li et al., Sleep deprivation disrupts the lacrimal system and induces dry eye disease. Exp Mol Med. (2018)
[5] Wang  & Craig, Investigating the effect of eye cosmetics on the tear film: current insights. Clin Optom (Auckl) (2018)
[6] Nita & Grzybowski, Smoking and eye pathologies. A systemic review. Part I. Anterior eye segment pathologies. Curr Pharm Des. (2017)
[7] [6] Nita & Grzybowski, Smoking and eye pathologies. A systemic review. Part II. Retina diseases, uveitis, optic neuropathies, thyroid-associated orbitopathy. Curr Pharm Des. (2017)
[8] Yam & Kwok, Ultraviolet light and ocular diseases. Int Ophthalmol. (2014)
[9] Velilla et al., Smoking and age-related macular degeneration: Review and update. J Ophthalmol. (2013)
[10] Ambrose & Barua, The pathophysiology of cigarette smoking and cardiovascular disease: an update. J Am Coll Cardiol. (2004)
[11] Algvere et al., Age-related maculopathy and the impact of blue light hazard. Acta Ophthalmol Scand. (2006)
[12] Kernt et al., Filtering blue light reduces light‐induced oxidative stress, senescence and accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins in human retinal pigment epithelium cells. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. (2011)
[13] Flaxman et al., Global causes of blindness and distance vision impairment 1990-2020: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Health. (2017)
[14] Basu et al,. Nutritional and potential disease prevention properties of carotenoids. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. (2001)
[15] Le et al., A 12-week lutein supplementation improves visual function in Chinese people with long-term computer display light exposure. Br J Nutr. (2009)
[16] Kvansakul et al., Supplementation with the carotenoids lutein or zeaxanthin improves human visual performance. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. (2006)
[17] Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 Research Group. Lutein + zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids for age-related macular degeneration: The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) randomized clinical trial. JAMA. (2013)
[18] Liu et al., Blueberry anthocyanins: protection against ageing and light-induced damage in retinal pigment epithelial cells. Br J Nutr. (2012)

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