There are countless benefits to incorporating a fitness routine into your life, but one that often gets overlooked is the effect it can have on your eye health. Vision care tends to be put on the back burner until the later years of life.
However, eye health can actually have a massive impact on quality of life as well as performance in work, school, and home.
Here are a few things to consider adding to your daily habits or routine as a way to prioritize your eye health. You might even find that these tips are not drastic changes to your lifestyle; small habits can make big impacts!
Sometimes it can feel like hearing a broken record when it comes to being told that exercise can solve your health issues. Exercising can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, help your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels, improve your mental health and mood, and improve your sleep; there are countless benefits to incorporating fitness into your routine.
Among the list of advantages that exercising can have on your body and health is the effect it has on your eye health. More specifically, incorporating cardiovascular exercises to your fitness routine can increase the blood flow to the optic nerve and retina, bringing more oxygen to the eye and helping to remove harmful toxins.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be an intense cardiovascular workout to reap the benefits. A brisk walk, aerobics, or anything that increases your pulse, or blood flow, will aid to lower intraocular pressure and protect the cells in your eyes.
As overwhelming or redundant as it may seem to repeatedly hear that exercise is important, it really does have lasting effects on your health. During these unprecedented times, it can be difficult to get to a gym or studio. But you don't have to, you can incorporate at-home workouts into your routine!
Fortunately, there are numerous workout subscriptions and fitness resources that can be accessed from the comfort of your home. This allows you to choose from thousands of workouts and products to train however you’re in the mood to train.
If you’ve fallen out of your exercise routine, set aside 20 minutes about three or four times a week so get some easy movement in—your body, and eyes, will thank you later!
Related: Why Can Your Vision Get Blurry After Heavy Exercise?
Eat nutrient-rich food
Just as exercising and fitness are important to your health, and more specifically your eye health, so is eating the right food. Nutrient-rich, or nutrient-dense, foods are high in nutrients and contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats.
The body needs these nutrients to nourish itself and stay healthy. Vitamins and supplements are on the rise, but a sure way to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs is to simply eat the right foods so your body can absorb the nutrients properly.
Nutrient-rich foods are beneficial to your body across the board, but there are a few eye-specific nutrients that can help you eye health. Here is a list of nutrients that are essential to eye health, as well as food options to consider incorporating into your diet.
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Omega-3 fatty acids are something the body cannot make on its own, so eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids is essential. It’s also shown to reduce or prevent eye problems and diseases such as dry eye or AMD (age-related macular degeneration), a common eye disorder for those over the age of 50 that causes loss in the center field of vision. Omega-3 is in seafoods such as salmon, sardines and tuna, as well as plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean and canola oils.
Vitamin C & E
Research has shown evidence that suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, which is blurry vision that results from the clouding of normally clear lenses in your eye. It can also slow the progression of AMD. Vitamin C is rich in fruits and vegetables, specifically oranges, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and potatoes.
On the other hand, vitamin E has also been shown to protect cells in the eye against molecules that can break down healthy tissue. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, spinach and pumpkin.
Lutein & zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to play an important role in eye health. Eating foods that are rich in these nutrients have been known to reduce the risk of chronic eye disease, as well as a number of other eye-related issues. These two nutrients are mostly found in leafy green vegetables and eggs. An omelette for breakfast with broccoli and spinach, or a smoothie with kale thrown in can make all the difference to your eyes!
Maintain good eye care
Nutrition and fitness can have a huge impact on eyesight and health, but what better way to take care of your eyes than going right to the source: your eyes! Luckily, taking care of your vision doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
An estimated 45 million people wear contact lenses to improve their vision. Contacts are a great option to help people see better while not interfering with sports, activities, and even appearance. An important step in preserving or maintaining your eyesight is to invest in quality eye care products, such as contact lenses.
Choose the contact option that works best for you, whether it be weekly, biweekly, monthly, soft, hard, etc. Studies have shown that specifically fitted contact lenses may support your health by helping slow the progression of near-sightedness. Talk to your doctor to chat about which option works best for your own personal health. Needless to say, there are countless options of contact lenses to choose from, it just comes down to choosing which type will meet your eye and health conditions, as well as your visual impairments.
While washing your hands well and often has always been important, taking the time to wash them thoroughly before dealing with your eyes is imperative. Germs can easily be transmitted from your hands to your eyes if you’re not taking extra precautions. A simple way to preserve your eye health is to be sure you’re being hygienic— wash and dry your hands before putting in contacts, clean and rinse your contact lens often, and always use fresh contact solution.
A little extra time and attention to your routine can go a long way in caring for the overall health of your body and eyes. In short, eat the right foods, incorporate some movement into your routine, and don’t avoid your eye health—your future eyes will thank you!
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