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Sunshine & Eyes
Just as ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage your skin, so eyes can be damaged from sun exposure.
Long term exposure can contribute to eye disease, especially cataracts, eyelid skin cancers and possibly macular degeneration.
Ideally, sunglasses should block the two components of UV radiation – UVB and UVA – by 99% and 95% respectively. Even if the lenses are dark, untreated plastic lenses do not adequately block UV radiation. Always check if the sunglasses block UV light.
Remember the best sunglasses are the ones you actually wear.
Keeping your weight down and yourself physically fit helps prevent heart attacks and diabetes which is important for your overall well-being. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to contribute to a decrease in eye pressure. Also, regular exercise may decrease the risk of degenerative eye conditions such as macular degeneration. A good goal to reach is to exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes.
Good nutrition is an extremely important part of the daily lifestyle choices you make. A diet high in saturated fat and sugar may increase your risk of eye disease. Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration have been shown to occur less frequently in people who eat diets rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy proteins, omega 3 fatty acids and lutein.
It is also known that drinking large quantities of water (one litre within 15 minutes) may result in transient significant increases in eye pressure in some glaucoma patients.
The omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and canola oil help to prevent dry eyes and possibly cataracts.
Vitamins and Anti-Oxidants
Some of the vitamins and minerals important to the eye include zinc and copper, antioxidant vitamins C, E,
and A (as beta carotene), lutein and selenium, an antioxidant mineral. These vitamins may decrease the risk of macular degeneration. Vitamin B12 and folic acid may reduce the risk of cataracts.
Dark green or brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain the most antioxidants which protect your eyes. Lutein, found in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, peas, broccoli and silverbeet is one of the best known eye-protecting antioxidants.
There are many treatments for allergies, such as antihistamines and decongestants that contain medications which can interact with some types of glaucoma. Some medications can enlarge the pupil. If someone has narrow angles or angle closure glaucoma, this may cause an acute angle closure crisis. If you have narrow angles you should consult your eye specialist before using this medication.
Steroids can raise eye pressure in the eyes in some patients. Usually, this reaction occurs with steroid eye drops, but it can happen with any form of steroid administration including skin creams (especially if applied around the eyes), tablets and even inhalers.
Research has established that there is a strong link between smoking and blindness from age-related macular degeneration. In addition, smoking can damage the blood vessels to the eye. It may also worsen diabetic eye disease.
If your activity poses a risk of injury to your eyes whether it is at work, home or playing sports, wear safety glasses.