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10 Eye Health Tips to Protect Your Vision

Expert advice that will help you see clearly for years to come. Plus, common questions about eye health.

By Amanda Pressner
Illustration of an eyeLeandro Castelao

3. Wear Shades

Over time, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can deteriorate vision, leading to cataracts (a clouding of the eyes’ lenses); age-related macular degeneration, or AMD (loss of sight in the center of the field of vision); and noncancerous and cancerous growths on the eyes’ surface, eyelids, and surrounding skin, according to optometrist Rachel Cohn, the owner of the Wink Eyecare Boutique, in Potomac, Maryland.

The American Optometric Association recommends sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and that screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. Look for an “ANSI” sticker on the sunglasses, which indicates that they meet these guidelines as proven by the American National Standards Institute. And if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s a good idea to get sunglasses with lenses that are polarized, which means that they’ve been treated to reduce glare.

Though a new generation of contact lenses can help deflect some of the sun’s harmful rays (such as Acuvue TrueEye, which is popular among dry-eye sufferers), they don’t cover the eyelids, “so you’ll still want to top off with a pair of sunglasses,” says Cohn. Find the perfect sunglasses for your face shape.

4. Try a Seafood Diet

You probably know that omega-3 fatty acids can bolster heart and brain health, but they can also decrease your risk of eye disease. According to a study published in the 2011 Archives of Ophthalmology, women who ate canned tuna and dark-fish meat (mackerel, salmon, sardines, bluefish, swordfish) just once a week had a 42 percent lower risk for AMD than those who ate such fish less than once a month. “Fish oils and fish-oil supplements are loaded with antioxidants that help prevent the damage from free radicals that can cause diseases like AMD,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, a registered dietitian in New York City. Another reason to go fish: Increasing your intake of omega-3s may also support healthier tear film. (Eat at least five to six four-ounce servings of fatty fish weekly.)

5. Go for the Greens

Carrots have a reputation as the go-to vegetable for healthy eyesight, and it’s true that “getting shortchanged on vitamin A, a key nutrient in carrots, could contribute to the deterioration of your vision,” says Zuckerbrot. But the real star nutrients are lutein and zeaxanthin—pigments found in such foods as dark, leafy greens, broccoli, zucchini, peas, and Brussels sprouts. Researchers from the University of Georgia in Athens discovered that leafy green vegetables may improve vision by reducing the stressful effects of glare and exposure to bright light, because they help absorb some of that light. Find more information on how a healthy diet can protect your vision.

Further evidence for the power of produce: A British study published in the 2011 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that vegetarians had a 30 percent lower risk of developing cataracts than people who ate 3.5 ounces of meat a day.

6. Start Steeping

You may want to swap that afternoon cup of coffee for green tea: Not only is it hydrating (which helps you produce tears) but the brew also contains catechins, which are among a host of antioxidants (like vitamins C and E, lutein, and zeaxanthin) that may defend the eyes’ tissues from AMD and cataracts. Research from the Chinese University of Hong Kong has proven that catechins are absorbed in the highest concentrations by the tissues in the retina, the part of the eye that detects light.

 
Read More About:Preventative Health

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