Practical tips for maintaining eye health and avoiding blindness

Sighstavers India, May 2014
Avoidable Blindness

Did you know that improper eye health and negligence can lead to blindness? Today, most people are not aware of key facts around avoidable blindness. In fact, people often undervalue the impact of a healthy lifestyle, only to realise its importance later on in life when they are faced with diseases. Making small and simple lifestyle adjustments can often go a long way in avoiding blindness and maintaining good eye health. Below are some of the easiest practical steps you can take to help you safeguard your eye sight for a long time to come:

  1. Use proper lighting: Extremely bright as well as dim lighting are both harmful to your eyes. Improper lighting causes squinting, discomfort and frequent headaches due to overworked eye muscles. The resulting stress can lead to serious eye problems. Instead of directly facing a light source while working, it is best to have the light fall from either above you or behind your shoulders.
  2. Eat healthy: Vitamin A, C and E and antioxidant-rich foods such as carrots, mangoes, strawberries, spinach, almonds, etc., provide your eyes the essential nutrients for healthy functioning, as well as help fight eye problems such as cataract and macular degeneration which are often a result of the natural aging process.
  3. Exercise regularly: Eye muscles are like any other muscle in the body and require regular exercise for maintaining good health. Physical exercise of the body in general also helps the eye by strengthening blood vessels and boosting healthy circulation. It also helps prevent diseases like diabetes which severely impact your eye health.
  4. Rest your eyes: If you’re reading a book, working on your computer or checking updates on your smartphone, take a break at least once every 20 minutes. Look into the distance for 20-30 seconds before you resume. This will help prevent sore and itchy eyes. If you’re doing eye-intensive work for long periods and feel stressed, then cover your eyes with your palms and massage slowly until you feel relaxed.
  5. Eye safety: Avoidable blindness also results from carelessness and poor eye safety. Protecting your eyes from harmful substances is indispensable to avoiding blindness. This includes protection from harmful chemicals, avoiding firecrackers, wearing protective eyewear while working with dangerous tools or playing sports, and also wearing sunglasses with UV protection in the sun.
  6. Get regular check-ups: Early detection of eye problems is the most effective way of preventing their escalation. Getting your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist at least once every year is therefore the surest method of avoiding avoidable blindness.

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