How can you maintain good eye health and prevent sore eyes?
Eye health is impacted by a number of factors.
Poor eye health can lead to symptoms ranging from sore eyes to dry, itchy eyes, blurred vision and more.
As one of our five senses, eyesight is without a doubt important. Being able to see well is a huge benefit, and yet it’s something that is easy to take for granted. Until there are problems with our eyes, we often don’t even think about them. Like the rest of our body, it’s important to look after them.
Limit screen time
Too much time spent staring at a screen can cause digital eyestrain, resulting in burning, itchy or tired eyes, as well as headaches, fatigue and loss of focus. With so much reliance on digital technology, and with many people now working from home, there is an increased risk that you might find yourself staring at screens longer than before. With no colleagues to speak to on breaks, and no commuting time to and from the office, your ‘breaks’ can easily turn into more time spent looking at a computer or television screen. To prevent the symptoms of too much screen time, be sure to take regular breaks. Make sure you are wearing any prescription glasses you require and be sure to work under proper lighting conditions.1
Avoid blue light
It’s not just televisions and computers that are an issue. Most of us are guilty of spending too much time staring at our smartphones. For many, it’s the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing before we go to bed at night. Phones transmit what is known as ‘blue light’ which not only keeps you awake, but also has the potential to lead to macular degeneration – a leading cause of vision loss.2 Certain situations can intensify the transmission of blue light, such as background darkness, so it really is best to avoid looking at your phone in bed if you are worried about eye health.
Try to get enough sleep
Putting down your smartphone is the first step to getting a better night’s sleep, and sleep in itself is important for your eyes. During sleep, all cells in our bodies restore themselves, and this goes for your eyes too. Restoring eye cells reduces sore eyes and can lead to healthier eye function and better vision. Dry eyes in particular are often seen in people who do not get enough sleep.3 But what is enough sleep? Government advice suggests that we should all aim to get between 6-9 hours sleep each night.4 If you have difficulty sleeping, try to establish a bedtime routine and do your best to wake up at the same time each morning too. You might find it easier to sleep if you do something in the evening that helps you to relax, like taking a warm bath, listening to some relaxing music or reading a book.
Like the rest of your body, your eyes need water to function properly. Without enough lubrication you will find yourself suffering from uncomfortable, sore eyes. This is because dehydration can cause a deficiency on your tear film, which makes the surface of your eyes more prone to irritation. Symptoms of dry eyes might include burning, sensitivity and a gritty feeling. The good news is that it’s an easy fix: simply drinking more water is usually enough to help you produce a greater volume of tears and find yourself suffering with sore eyes less.
Ensure you are getting enough vitamins
Vitamin A deficiency has been shown in studies to be one of the leading causes of blindness globally.5 One of the first signs of such a deficiency is dry eyes, or difficulty producing tears and in some cases you may start to experience night blindness. Fortunately, it’s easy to ensure that your diet contains enough vitamin A. The richest sources are animal-derived, such as liver, egg yolks and dairy products. If you have dietary restrictions that don’t allow you to eat animal products, you can encourage your body to produce it by eating vegetables containing carotenoids, such as sweet potato, kale and carrot. As it can be difficult to get enough vitamin A this way however, you might also like to consider taking a nutritional supplement.
Vitamins E and C are also important for eye health. Deficiency in vitamin E can lead to retinal degeneration and blindness6 and sufficient levels of vitamin C have been suggested in studies to make you less prone to getting cataracts.7 Some good dietary sources of vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds and vegetable oils, while vitamin C is plentiful in many fruits and vegetables, including sweet peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli and kale.
Armed with the knowledge of what to do to protect our eyes, for most of us it should be relatively straightforward. Reach for an extra glass of water, take time away from electronic devices and do your best to lead a healthy diet and lifestyle, getting plenty of regenerative sleep.