As a leading eye doctor in Alexandria, we see patients every day with all stages and conditions of ocular health. Eye health is an important part of living a healthy and fulfilling life. While many of us know a variety of ways to take care of other parts of our body like our ears, nose, and muscles, we may not be as well versed in how to care for our eyes. Fortunately, Dr. Sina J. Sabet, MD, PC is here to offer you a few natural ways that you can follow to care for your eyes.

The Importance of Eye Care

Your vision is one of your most important senses. An estimated 80% of everything you perceive is through your sight. Through protecting and caring for your eyes, we can limit their chances of going blind or experiencing any vision loss. You can also reduce the chances of developing eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts. Not only that, but good vision contributes to your life in more ways than you might realize. Your eyes and your brain are intimately linked, and by keeping your eyes healthy you’re keeping your brain healthy. Not only that, good vision can help you improve your athletic skills, make you a safer driver, and ensure that you have an easier time learning and practicing new skills.

So how can you care for your eyes naturally? Let’s take a look.

Enjoy an Eye-Friendly Diet

Often when we think of dieting, we typically associate it with our weight and heart health. The truth is, a varied diet can also keep your eyes healthy. By eating a diet full of colorful veggies and fruits, you’re offering your body the fiber it needs to slow the absorption of cholesterol and sugars. Many of the plants in a healthy diet are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Fruits like blackberries, cherries, blueberries, and bilberries are chock-full of antioxidants and blood vessel strengtheners. Indeed, studies suggest that a higher intake of antioxidants, zinc, and essential fatty acids like omega-3 could help to decrease the risk of macular degeneration.

Not sure what to include in your new eye-friendly diet? Consider adding foods like these to your regular menu:

  • Foods with high omega-3 content like salmon, tuna, and oily fish.
  • Non-meat proteins like eggs, nuts, and beans.
  • Leafy greens like kale, collards, and spinach.
  • Citrus fruits and juices such as oranges and limes.

Get Adequate Sleep

We all know that itchy eye feeling when we don’t get enough sleep. Just like our bodies and our brains, your eyes need enough sleep to help them repair and restore themselves every day. While everyone needs different amounts of sleep each day to feel rested and revitalized, it’s typically suggested that you get 7 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Studies have found that six or fewer hours of sleep nightly can lead to a variety of health issues. In relation to your eyes, sleep deprivation can have a variety of side effects, with some being mild while others being severe.

An unsightly side effect of sleep deprivation is the presence of dark circles under your eyes. Without adequate sleep, you may notice that your eyes look puffy or have bags, which make you look older and more tired. Additionally, you may notice your eyelids spasming and twitching throughout the day. This can make it difficult to focus on tasks like work or driving. Another unfortunate side effect is having dry, scratchy, bloodshot eyes. Not only are dry eyes painful and irritating, but they are not lubricated enough to stay healthy. This can lead to increased light sensitivity or blurred vision. Over time, chronic lack of sleep can lead to more serious eye concerns like glaucoma. This is when too much pressure builds inside your eyes. Left unchecked, glaucoma can eventually lead to a loss of vision.

Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes

It may seem innocuous, but rubbing your eyes could be dangerous for your ocular health. This catches some people by surprise, as many of us rub our eyes frequently throughout the day, especially when we suffer from seasonal allergies or are feeling tired. After all, rubbing your eyes can help tears to flow which lubricates your eyes and removes irritants. It can also help slow your heart rate and relieve stress by stimulating the vagus nerve. 

But rubbing your eyes can lead to more damage than you may realize. Rubbing your eyes too frequently can break small blood vessels in the eyes themselves, which leads to your eyes looking bloodshot and sore. Our hands are often covered in germs and rubbing your eyes is a great way to introduce these particles to your eyes which can cause issues like conjunctivitis. 

For many, when an irritant gets in the eye, they reach up to rub it and try to remove the object. This could actually scratch your corneas, which is a very painful experience. For those with chronic eye issues like myopia and glaucoma, rubbing their eyes could lead to worsened eyesight or spikes in eye pressure. This could result in permanent vision loss. Other studies have found that chronic eye rubbing could thin your cornea, which leads to a distortion of your vision, and later the need for a corneal graft.

Instead of rubbing your eyes, try to flush out the irritant, or lubricate your eyes using sterile saline or artificial tears.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

One of the easiest ways to protect your eyes is to simply wash your hands throughout the day. But surprisingly, many Americans do not have great hand washing habits. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly half the population does not wash their hands after coughing or sneezing, one third do not wash their hands before eating, and nearly half fail to wash their hands after using the bathroom. When we don’t wash our hands, we collect dirt, bacteria, and other germs that can easily be transferred to our eyes, nose, and throat, which can lead to health concerns in any of these areas. When we wash her hands frequently, we limit our chances of developing an infection like conjunctivitis or corneal ulcers.

Take a Walk Every Day

Regular exercise is good for our bodies and our minds in many ways. It’s a great way to stay in shape and preserve your vision. Numerous studies in the last few years have found connections between exercise and eye health concerns like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. In 2013, a study found that a brisk walk a few times a week was “… associated with decreased risk of age-related cataract.” Indeed, a study in 2016 backed these findings and even went as far as to suggest that a lack of regular exercise could increase your risk of getting cataracts. 

In a study of 4000 adults, those who exercised three or more times a week were found to be less likely to develop wet age-related macular degeneration. Wet AMD is when blood vessels grow under the center of the retina which causes blood and fluid to leak into the body of the eye. Exercise also helps to lower the intraocular pressure of your eyes. With moderate, low impact exercise, you’ll enjoy reductions in eye pressure that can prevent glaucoma.

Keep Your Weight in Check

Weight gain and obesity is a pressing health concern across the United States. It’s estimated that nearly one-third of all Americans are considered obese and that number is increasing with every passing year. But weight concerns affects more than just your body image and heart health. Increased weight gain has been linked to elevated pressure inside the eyes. This is called intraocular pressure and, if left without treatment, can lead to glaucoma. But increased weight can also lead to other eye conditions, like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye conditions. Maintaining a healthy weight can help your quality of eyesight and long-term eye health.

Schedule Regular Visits to Your Eye Doctor in Alexandria

Another natural way to care for your eyes is to schedule regular visits with your eye doctor in Alexandria. Dr. Sina J. Sabet is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and the National Board of Medical Examiners. His skill set and background knowledge ensures that he can offer a variety of services including comprehensive eye exams, eye surgery, optical dispensary, and contact lens fitting. If you’re ready to help care for the health of your eyes, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sabet today.