Eight good habits to improve your vision and eye health

woman holding reading glasses pinching nose between eyes

Our vision is something we sometimes take for granted, often not really thinking too much about the health of our eyes. But there are little things you can do to keep them healthy and maintain or even improve your vision.

The federal government says there are more than 450,000 people living with blindness or some level of vision impairment, with cataracts and macular degeneration the most commonly reported conditions.

Wear sunglasses
Not only do sunglasses make you look undeniably cool, they protect your eyes from the sun’s harsh UV light. Direct exposure to UV light for long periods over many years puts you at an increased risk of developing cataracts and abnormal growths.

And it’s not just on bright sunny days that you should be slipping on the shades. UV light is constant, so even on dreary grey days your eye is being damaged, sometimes even more than on cloudless days because of light being reflected back from cloud cover.

Read: What you need to know about your eye health

Improve your diet
You may not think your diet would have much impact on your vision, but there are many foods you can eat to protect your vision.

“Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts,” says WebMD.

Eat lots of green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are also good, as are eggs, nuts, beans, and other non-meat protein sources. Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices can also improve eye health.

Stop rubbing your eyes
This seems like such a simple thing to do and yet so many of us struggle not to touch our eyes several times a minute. It may provide some little temporary relief, but the burn will back moments later. It’s because you’re transferring dirt from your hand directly into your eyes.

“You transfer germs into your eyes this way, classically bacteria that causes pink eye,” cornea specialist Dr Jessica Ciralsky told health blog Self.

“Eye rubbing has been linked to permanent corneal damage – like disorders known as keratoconus in which the cornea thins and begins to bulge outward – and it can also break the fragile vessels around the eye.”

Read: Risky eye health mistakes

Take a break from screens
This one is definitely easier said than done in today’s world. There’s barely a moment where your gaze isn’t directly fixed some kind of digital screen be it your phone, TV, computer or tablet.

According to OPSM, the average Australian now spends more than six hours a day staring at some kind of screen. Spending a long time focused on something a fixed distance away (for example, a TV or computer screen) causes strain in the eye muscles and is the reason your eyes hurt so much after working at a computer all day.

It’s recommended that you take a break from looking at a digital screens every 20 minutes, or at least once an hour. By taking the break, you’ll notice your eyes relax as the muscles are released from the position they’ve been stuck in.

Quit smoking
There’s isn’t really any part of your body cigarettes don’t affect, and your eyes are no exception. The Victorian government’s Better Health Channel says smoking is a leading cause of age-related macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of blindness in the Western world and is untreatable.

“Nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke are thought to be important causes of arteries losing their elasticity. This means that arteries respond less well to fluctuations in pressure and are more likely to rupture,” Better Health says.

Read: Seven foods for healthy eyes

Go easy on eye drops
Medical eye drops that reduce redness work by constricting blood vessels in the eye, which is fine as a temporary solution. But overuse can permanently damage these blood vessels.

“Overusing drops that ‘take the red out’ can actually cause the opposite effect and lead to more redness,” Dr Ciralsky says.

Get regular eye tests
This one seems like a no-brainer when talking about preserving your vision but it never hurts to remind people. It’s important to get your eyes tested regularly, even if you don’t suffer from any vision loss.

“Visit your eye doctor once a year for a comprehensive dilated eye exam,” optometrist Dr Matthew Alpert told Reader’s Digest.

“Comprehensive eye exams aren’t just about the eyes. They can also help detect chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.”

How is your vision holding up these days? Do you think your eyes could benefit from picking up a few of these habits? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice.For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

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