Learn how eating a healthy diet can help in keeping your eyes healthy and pain-free
Human body is a wonderful machine where each organ works in systemic coordination to carry out essential functions and sustain the flow of vital energy to every cell and tissue responsible for growth. Our body can carry out various functions internally and externally. Chemically, the human body consists of water, and organic compounds in the form of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. Water is an essential component and is found within extracellular fluids in the form of blood plasma, the lymph, interstitial fluid and within the cells. Lipids stored in the form of fats, phospholipids and steroids comprise of the chief structural components in our body. Fats are responsible for channelizing the flow of energy in our body to carry out functions and layers of fat deposited within our muscles provide us insulation and function as shock absorbers. Phospholipids and steroid compound mainly cholesterol are the major components of the cell membrane surrounding each cell.
Getting an overview to eye health, it is interesting to listen to Dr. Nisheeta Agarwal, Consultant Ophthalmologist, P.D. Hinduja Hospital speaking to Onlymyhealth, thus, “The pandemic has increased the number of screen hours not only amongst adults working from home, but also amongst children who are schooling from home. The normal blink rate is at least 10-15 times a minute. But, an individual seated in front of a computer tends to blink no more than once or twice in a minute. There are few healthy practices one can adopt to keep the eyes healthy and moist.” Sharing her insights on computer vision syndrome and measures to tackle the problem, she further states, “Keep the eyes moist by suing eye drops which are free from preservatives or splash clean, cool water into the eyes occasionally. When one blinks, the tears are evenly spread over the surface of the eyes and healthy tears ward off infection and wash off toxins that would otherwise accumulate.”
How to Balance your Eye Health?
The eyesight being the most important of the five senses is crucial to be cared and maintained for longer life. Eye health is closely linked to your general health, but, a few specific nutrients are especially favourable for your eyes.
Some of them include:
Deficiency of Vitamin A is one of the most common causes resulting in blindness in the world. Vitamin A is responsible for maintaining your eyes’ light-sensing cells or photoreceptors which are the cells in the retina responding to the source of light. Improper or deficient consumption of Vitamin A can lead to night blindness, dry eyes, and worse. Animal-derived substances are rich in Vitamin A. Essential sources include liver, egg, yolks and other dairy products.
The nutrient can also be derived from antioxidant plant compounds known as provitamin A carotenoids which are found in major amounts in fruits and vegetables.
Lutenin and Zeaxanthin
Lutenin and zeaxanthin are forms of yellow carotenoid antioxidants known as macular pigments which are concentrated in the central part of the retina which is a layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eyes. The substances work as protective layers against the harmful blue light. Studies indicate intake of lutenin and zeaxanthin is directly correlated to their presence in your retina. An observational study points out the importance of the two compounds in middle-age groups and older people by significantly reducing the risk of AMD. Lutenin and zeaxanthin commonly occur together in food. Best sources of the two are spinach, kale, parsley, pistachios, and green peas. However, egg yolks, sweet corn and components like red grapes are also vital sources containing sufficient amounts of lutenin and zeaxanthin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The long chain omega-3 fatty acids including EPA DHA are considered vital for eye health. DHA is found in retina where it helps to control eye functions. The compound helps in the development and functioning of brain and eye development during pregnancy. Evidences have proved consumption of omega-3 supplements to have benefitted those with dry eyes. People with dry eyes disease have revealed positive signs from consumption of EPA and DHA supplements by increasing amount of tear glands. Oily fish is considered a good source of EPA and DHA. Omega-3 supplements can be derived from fish and microalgae.
Eyes depend on high amounts of antioxidants as compared to other organs. Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that provides protection against oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is a key indicator of common age-related cataracts: cortical and nuclear cataracts. Cortical cataracts form on the edges of the lens, while nuclear cataracts form deep at the centre or nucleus portion.
Concentration of Vitamin C is higher in the aqueous humor of our eyes than other body fluids. Levels of Vitamin C contained in the aqueous humor tend to be proportional to the dietary intake. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, guava, kale, broccoli and bell peepers.
Vitamin E is comprised of fat-soluble antioxidants that guard the useful fatty acids against harmful oxidation. Our retina has a greater concentration of fatty acids, so, adequate intake of Vitamin E is essential for eye functions. Severe deficiency of the nutrient can cause retinal degeneration over time, however, the extent to which supplements provide additional benefits apart from the already consumed duet is unclear. Chief dietary substances rich in the nutrient include sunflower seeds, vegetable oils, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin, sunflower seeds and many more.
Tips to Maintain Healthy Eyes
- Eating a Well-Balanced Diet- Eating the kind of food reveals a lot about your eye health. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, essential vitamins may help to fight age-related vision defects like degeneration and cataracts. It is advisable to have sufficient quantities of green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, etc., eggs, nuts, beans, nonmeat protein sources and diet rich in citrus fruits to help your eyes glow.
- Avoid Smoking- Smoking makes one prone to eye disorders like cataract, damage to optic nerve, macular degeneration along with other medical issues. One must try to keep smoking at bay as the process trigger a variety of deadly diseases killing your immune system.
- Use Sunglasses to Prevent UV Light- A right pair of sunglasses blocks the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun as greater exposure to direct sunlight increases chances of old-age disorders like cataract and macular degeneration. It is crucial to wrap around lenses properly and protect our eyes from sideways.
- Trying to Limit Exposure to Computer Screens- Trying to stare longer at computer screens can lead to eyestrain, blurry vision, dry eyes, vision disorders, headaches along with neck, back and pain in shoulders. One must try to adjust the right pair of glasses to be suitable to be used on computer screens to protect their eyes from the harmful glare.
- Computer or desktop screen should be aptly adjusted so that the eyes are falling in line with the top of the computer. This allows us to look slightly down at the monitor.
- Anti-glare screens can be used to prevent glare from windows and screens. Problem of dry eyes can be reduced by blinking more and using artificial tears. However, if the problem persists, it is recommended to consult a doctor. It is crucial to rest your eyes every 20 minutes and get up after every 2 hours for at least 15 minutes to rest your eyes.
Eye health is as important as the health of the rest of the body. Eyes are sensitive and need extra care and attention. By adhering to a bunch of measures and following a regular, balanced diet routine, you can wipe out eye disorders and pave way for stronger vision.
(Written By Shivani Priyam, Sub Editor, Onlymyhealth)
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