There are some small tricks that allow us to protect our eyesight, at any age. Adults and children can do a lot, in everyday life, to counteract some very common ailments, such as myopia, which over time perhaps tends to get worse by requiring to change glasses, but also glaucoma, cataract and retinal degeneration. Today we see the main guidelines regarding nutrition and lifestyle to take care of eye health and vision. It's really about small actions, which take up little time for us and which do not cause discomfort but which have great and very important benefits.
Here's how to protect your eyesight if you spend a lot of time on the computer
The computer is a tool that, nowadays, has become indispensable for working, getting information, spending time and even communicating. Being on the computer a lot, however, can strain your eyesight and cause problems such as blurred vision, dry eye, stinging eye and eye redness. This is due to the effort to accommodate eyes for a short distance and to the fact that, when we are intent on the computer, we tend to blink less (Sheppard et al, BMJ Open Ophthalmol, 2018). The fact that the computer has a horizontal screen doesn't help either. In fact, the palpebral opening is greater in this case than for a tablet used vertically and so a greater ocular surface is exposed to evaporation of the tear film, further worsening the dry eye (Sheppard et al, BMJ Open Ophthalmol, 2018). First of all, the use of artificial tears can definitely bring relief.
Then, it is important to make an effort to blink more often. Don't forget also that your computer screen emits blue light. Prolonged exposure to this type of light can induce eye damage over time, exacerbating dry eye but also increasing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration and worsening the quality of sleep, since blue light alters the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle (Zhao et al, Int J Ophthalmol, 2018). To protect ourselves we can set the appropriate filters provided by the computer or wear glasses with lenses that filter blue light. Finally, to rest our eyes and not tire them, it is important to follow the 20-20-20 rule, namely every 20 minutes of computer activity we can try to take our eyes off and observe for 20 seconds something that is about 20 meters away (Sheppard et al, BMJ Open Ophthalmol, 2018).
How to counter myopia, for adults and children
Myopia can be caused by genetic factors but it can also be induced or aggravated by some incorrect habits. First of all, it is good practice to teach children while studying or reading, but this is also good for adults who study or work or read a lot, the 20-20-20 rule, already introduced in the previous paragraph. Every 20 minutes try to interrupt the activity that is being practiced and that requires the effort to adjust the vision at a short distance and look at an object about 20 meters away for 20 seconds.
Then, it is good to remember that myopia is reduced with exposure to daylight, so good advice is to always carve out time for an outdoor activity, such as a walk (Lagreze et al, Dtsch Arztebl Int, 2017). In fact, a person who is exposed to little daylight has a probability up to 5 times higher of developing myopia than someone who is exposed to more light, and if in addition to this the person also carries out a job or an activity that requires to accommodate eyes for a short-distance for a long period of time, the risk rises 16-fold (Lagreze et al, Dtsch Arztebl Int, 2017).
Then, it has been observed that placing the book, the notebook or the computer at a distance greater than 30 centimeters, in order not to force the eyes to see too close objects, is a protective action that counteracts the worsening of myopia (Jiang et al, Front Public Health., 2022).
The sight-saving diet, for all ages
Our eyes are subjected to great stress. In addition to carrying out their job, which is to allow us to see the surrounding environment, they are exposed to pollution, smoke, UV rays, often without the protection provided by good quality sunglasses, but also, often, to the effects of an unbalanced diet, which causes increases in blood sugar. These factors increase the release of free radicals that, over the long term, make you more likely to develop conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. That is why it is important to include in our daily diet foods and supplements rich in antioxidants, which can give our eyes help and protection against free radical damage. For example, green tea is rich in an antioxidant substance, called epigallocatechin gallate, which has been shown to inhibit cataract progression and prevent glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and maculopathy. Also take into account quercetin, an antioxidant contained in onions, apples, blueberries, red grapes, broccoli and citrus fruits, and resveratrol, which is found in red grapes, cranberries, berries and in peanuts, which offer protection to eyesight in case of diabetes and advancing age. Turmeric is particularly useful in inhibiting the progression of cataracts. Beta carotene, found in carrots, mangoes, oranges and papayas, lutein and zeaxanthin, found in spinach, carrots and red grapes, and lycopene in cooked tomatoes fight macular degeneration (Ikonne et al , Heliyon, 2020). Finally, other nutrients should also be mentioned, such as taurine, an amino acid contained in seafood and seaweed, which prevents eye damage induced by blue light and retinal degeneration, but also omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in fish such as sardines and salmon and help prevent inflammation, reduce intraocular pressure and bring benefit in case of dry eye, and saffron with a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action, useful to protect against damage from sunlight (Medori et al, JPMH, 2022 ).
SOS eyes, small remedies for every day
Despite all the precautions it can happen that the eyes become irritated, due to allergens, but also to intense light or various irritating agents. After making the premise that if the disorder persists it is advisable to consult a doctor, let's see some first aid remedies to take care of irritated eyes. These remedies are provided by the great French herbalist Maurice Messegue, in his book My herbarium (Messegue, My herbarium, Mondadori). In case of irritated eyes, you can use eye drops, excellent are those based on calendula and cornflower, alone or in combination. In case of eyelid swelling but also styes, chamomile-based compresses can help. A decoction must be prepared by bringing a cup of water to the boil, add 5-6 chamomile flowers and simmer for a couple of minutes, then filter and leave to cool down a bit. Soak a gauze and place on the eyes.