Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the mineral zinc, contain antioxidants that can help prevent macular degeneration. It’s a condition in which the macula — the part of the eye that controls central vision — deteriorates.
Food sources for these important nutrients include a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits, such as:
- red peppers
- sweet potato
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseed, are also recommended for better eye health.
2. Don’t forget the carotenoids
A few other nutrients are also keys to improving eyesight. Among them are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids found in the retina. You can also find them in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, zucchini, and eggs.
Lutein and zeaxanthin can also be taken in supplement form. These carotenoids help protect the macula by improving pigment density in that part of the eye, and absorbing ultraviolent and blue light.
3. Stay fit
Yes, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help your eyes, not just your waistline. Type 2 diabetes, which is more common in people who are overweight or obese, can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eyes.
This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Too much sugar circulating in your bloodstream injures the delicate walls of your arteries. Diabetic retinopathy causes the very small arteries in your retina — the light-sensitive back part of the eye — to leak blood and fluid into the eye, harming your vision.
Getting your blood sugar levels checked regularly and staying fit and trim can lower your odds of developing type 2 diabetes and its many complications.
4. Manage chronic conditions
Diabetes isn’t the only disease that can affect your vision. Other conditions, such as high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis, can affect your eyesight. These conditions are linked to chronic inflammation, which can harm your health from head to toe.
Inflammation of the optic nerve, for example, can cause pain and even complete vision loss. While a disease such as multiple sclerosis can’t be prevented, you can try to manage it with healthy habits and medications.
High blood pressure can be effectively treated with a heart-healthy diet, exercise and antihypertensive medications.
5. Wear protective eyewear
Whether you’re playing racquetball, working in your garage, or doing a science experiment in school, it’s vital that you protect your eyes with appropriate eyewear.
Tough, protective eyewear is essential if there is a risk of chemicals, sharp objects, or materials such as wood shavings, metal shards, or even a stray elbow during a basketball game, entering your eye.
Many protective goggles are made with a type of polycarbonate, which is about 10 times tougher than other forms of plastic.
6. That includes sunglasses
Sunglasses aren’t just for looking cool. Wearing shades is one of the most important steps you can take when it comes to improving your eyesight. You want sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation from sunlight.
Sunglasses help protect your eyes from conditions that stem from eye damage. These include cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium — a growth of tissue over the white part of the eye. Pterygiums can lead to astigmatismTrusted Source, which can cause blurred vision.
Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also help protect your eyes from sun damage.
7. Follow the 20-20-20 rule
Your eyes work hard during the day and need a break now and then. The strain can be especially intense if you work at a computer for long stretches at a time. To ease the strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule.
That means every 20 minutes, you should stop staring at your computer and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
8. Quit smoking
You know smoking is bad for your lungs and your heart, not to mention your hair, skin, teeth, and just about every other body part. That includes your eyes, too. Smoking dramatically raises your risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Fortunately, your eyes, lungs, heart, and other body parts can start to recover from years of tobacco-induced harm within the first hours of quitting. And the longer you can avoid cigarettes, the more your blood vessels will benefit and inflammation will ease off throughout your eyes and the rest of you.
9. Learn your family’s eye health history
Some eye conditions are hereditary, so being aware of eye conditions that your parents or grandparents had can help you take precautions.
Hereditary conditions include:
- retinal degeneration
- age-related macular degeneration
- optic atrophy
- Understanding your family history can help you take early precautions
10. Keep your hands and lenses clean
Your eyes are especially vulnerable to germs and infections. Even things that just irritate your eyes can affect your vision. For those reasons, you should always wash your hands before touching your eyes or handling your contact lenses.
It’s also super important to wash your hands and disinfect your contact lenses as instructed.
You should also replace your contact lenses as advised by the manufacturer or your doctor. Germs in your contact lenses can lead to bacterial infections of the eyes.
The bottom line
You may not associate washing your hands, eating your vegetables, or watching your weight as key steps toward better eyesight, but they all play a role.
Living a healthier lifestyle and protecting your eyes from the sun and foreign objects can’t protect against every eye condition. But they can all lower your odds of developing a problem that could hurt your vision.