8 scientifically proven ways to protect your eyesight
Our eyes are some of our most precious organs, so it’s natural to want to protect them. But we’re living in a digital world, where for many of us, staring at a screen takes up half of our day. It can be tough to care for our eyes properly. Weak eyesight can be triggered by genetics, poor nutrition, aging or strain. So, we have some tips that could help you protect and improve your vision, and they’re so easy to incorporate into your life.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
#1 Play video games
This one is pretty hard to believe, but this based on a mountain of emerging research about the possible benefits to playing video games. We’re made to believe that staring at a screen for long periods of time will degrade our eyesight, but surprisingly, this research suggests that action games can improve contrast sensitivity function.
Contrast sensitivity function improvements are typically brought about by correction of the optics of the eye with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. It is the ability to detect small increments in shades of gray on a uniform background and is one of the main limiting factors in a wide variety of visual tasks. (1)
Two studies have concluded that video game playing may also compensate to some extent for optical and retinal defects by retraining the visual cortex to make a better use of the information that it receives, however, degraded. (2) So, all those video games may not be as bad for you as you thought!
#2 Eat carrots
Remember when mom would nag you to eat your carrots because they improved your eyesight? I always thought it meant it would eventually give me night vision. Well, it doesn’t quite work that way, but carrots are certainly good for your eyesight.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a carotenoid pigment which is an essential precursor for vitamin A. Deficiencies in vitamin A are the leading causes of blindness in the developing world. Lack of vitamin A can also lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, and Xerophthalmia (a disease characterized by dry eyes, swollen eyelids, and corneal ulcers).
Carrots contain lutein, an important antioxidant. Lutein-rich foods are known to increase the density of pigment in the macula, the yellow-shaped oval area in the center of the retina. As pigment density increases, the retina is protected more, and the risk for macular degeneration decreases. Check out an awesome carrot smoothie recipe here. (3)
#3 Follow the 20/20/20 rule
Optometrists usually recommend for patients with strained eyes to start this activity at work. If you stare at screens or read for much of your day, every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds at a time, look 20 feet away from you. WorkSafe at Oregon State University recommends this as it keeps the eye tissues flexible and oxygenated. You should allow your eyes and facial muscles to relax. (4)
#4 Get your greens in
Your dark, leafy greens that is. We mean kale, spinach and collard greens, among others, AKA the healthiest foods on the planet. These veggies receive a ton of praise for all their health benefits, and eyesight is certainly no exception.
Lutein, also a key nutrient in carrots, absorbs blue light as part of their mechanism to capture energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. We recommend that to take in all the benefits of your greens; you consume them along with a fat such as cashew milk, olive oil or avocado. For some smoothie inspiration, check out one of our delicious green smoothie recipes.
#5 Incorporate high arginine foods
So, what’s arginine, you ask? You’ll find it highest in sources of white meat; turkey, chicken, and pork. But for the vegans and vegetarians, you can also find high amounts of arginine in pumpkin seeds, lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts. (5)
Arginine contains nitric oxide, which has been shown to increase vasodilation and improve contractility in the area that drains fluid from the eye, creating a decrease in pressure in the eye, which actually can reduce the chances of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States, being defined as damage to the optic nerve caused by high levels of intraocular pressure. (6) So the high levels of pumpkin and turkey being consumed this time of year could be reducing your risk of glaucoma! Arginine can also improve liver function.
#6 Get outside
Before you get settled into playing video games twelve hours a day, it’s important to remember that allowing our eyes plenty of time to adjust to far distances and daylight can reduce straining in the muscles around the eye. A 2014 study showed that for each additional hour children spent outdoors per week, their risk of being nearsighted dropped by about two percent. (7)
Another study in October 2016 from the University of Waterloo found that children who spend just one extra hour a week outside lower their risk of developing nearsightedness by 15 percent, a new study from the University of Waterloo has found. (8) These studies focus on vision development in children, but the studies also demonstrate that also too much exposure to UV light could damage the retina, spending a healthy amount of time outdoors could help to maintain good vision in adults.
Learn more about the benefits of getting outside here!
#7 Exercise your eyes!
Although there isn’t much scientific backing to prove these exercises do improve your eyesight, many claim it can ease the strain your eyes undergo every day. Follow the eye movements in order from the table, and let us know if any of them worked to alleviate tension in or around your eyes.
#8 Drink Water
The number one piece of health advice you just can’t get away from. Staying hydrated is without a doubt the most important way of ensuring your mind and body function at their best. Drinking pure water will prevent your eyes from drying out by maintaining a moist environment.
According to America’s Best, optometrists say that the number one eye complaint they hear is related to dry eye and its symptoms. That lubrication allows your eyes to do everything from producing tears to focusing. Your eyes are one part of the body that should always have fluid present.
Without proper hydration, your eyes lack the fluids they need to clean out debris (with tears), to blink comfortably, and even to see without straining. Your eyes are happiest when there is plenty of liquid in there to keep things clean and operating properly. (9)
There are many claims out there that will tell you that there is one quick fix for all eye problems, but this is simply not true. The eye is an incredibly complex organ that can endure a host of issues, so we recommend you listen to rigorously tested scientific research, and of course, your optometrist or doctor. Let us know if any of these tips improved your eyesight.
Li, R., Polat, U., Makous, W., & Bavelier, D. (2009, August 29). Enhancing the contrast sensitivity function through action video game training. Nature Neuroscience, 12(5), 549-551. doi:10.1038/nn.2296
Davis, R. L. (2016). Preliminary Results in Macular Pigment Optical Density Associated with and without Zeaxanthin and Lutein Supplementation. Advances in Ophthalmology & Visual System, 2(6). doi:10.15406/aovs.2015.02.00066
Kaiser-Kupfer, M. I., Monasterio, F. D., Valle, D., Walser, M., & Brusilow, S. (1981). Visual Results of a Long-Term Trial of a Low-Arginine Diet in Gyrate Atrophy of Choroid and Retina. Ophthalmology, 88(4), 307-310. doi:10.1016/s0161-6420(81)35033-7