Living in the 20th century, the era of technologies and screens, we are paying a hefty price; our health. We all know very well how the people of our generation, including us, are getting blinded by this toxic work culture, leaving their health behind. Being ambitious is a great quality to have but so is maintaining good health. Neglecting your well being for the sake of work/duty is never an option.
After all, what would you do with all your hard earned money when you, yourself won’t be there to spend it?
Though, our whole body is suffering in some way or the other because of our poor lifestyle, but the part about which we are going to discuss today is the eyes.
First we need to understand the structure and the functioning of the eyes in order to understand the ways to keep it healthy.
Importance of having healthy eyes
Eyes are the portals for our brain that enables us to see the colourful world. You’ll be amazed to know that eyes are the second most complex part of our body, after the brain. A normal human eye:
- Has a visual acuity of 20/20. It simply means, with a normal vision one can clearly see objects at a distance of 20 feet.
- Has a resolution of 576 megapixels, which provides us a clear and high contrasting view.
- Can see till infinite, in absence of any obstruction (though, that depends on many other factors as well).
An adult human eye is nearly spherical in structure. The walls of the eyes are composed of three layers, namely:
- Sclera, the outermost layer which forms the anterior part of an eye, cornea.
- Choroid, the middle layer. It forms the Iris, the visible coloured portion of eye and ciliary body on the anterior portion,which holds the lens of the eye in place.
- Retina, the innermost light sensitive layer, where the image is formed, contains the photoreceptor cells, bipolar cells, amacrine cells and ganglion cells.
Other important parts of an eye include blind spot and fovea. Blind spot is the region from where the optic nerve leaves the eye and retinal blood vessels enter it. This region lacks the photoreceptor cells and hence, no image is formed there.
A yellowish pigmented spot called macula lutea, has a central pit called the fovea. Fovea is a thinned out portion of the retina, wherethe visual acuity is the greatest.
First of all the light enters the eye through the outermost clear layer called cornea. It is a curved surface which bends the light to help the eye focus. Iris has an important role in vision instead of just making our eyes look beautiful. It controls the amount of light entering the eye by making changes in the aperture of the pupil.
After entering the eye, light falls on the transparent crystalline lenses, whose curvature is adjusted according to the distance of the object from the eye with the help of the ciliary muscles.
Cornea and lens work together to focus the light correctly on the retina.
The convex lens forms a real and inverted image on the retina.
The photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) then convert the image formed into electrical signals and pass it to a series of cells in the retina. Finally the electric impulses are sent to the visual cortex of the brain with the help of the optic nerve.
Approximately 6.8% of children younger than 18 years in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition. About 9.3 million children in India are visually impaired. In fact, according to an article by the National Eye Institute, visual impairment and blindness cases in the U.S. are expected to double by the year 2050. Visual impairment like myopia (nearsightedness) and hypermetropia (farsightedness) is increasing at an alarming rate in people these days, especially in kids.
Increased screen time is a major cause behind these eye defects. People are obsessed with their mobile phones these days. The mindless scrolling that we keep doing these days just for fun is charging us a hefty price by degrading our vision.
Other than longer exposure to screens, pollution is another serious cause of many eye related issues such as redness, swelling, blurred vision, and diseases like conjunctivitis, cataract, glaucoma. Some diseases are even irreversible.
Cataract and glaucoma are a major cause of vision loss and blindness in older people.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays causes modification in the lens proteins, and leads to cataract formation and worsened eyesight. Cancers of the eyelid, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are other diseases linked to UV exposure.
There are many ways by which one can improve their eye health and maintain proper vision at home. Though it’s not possible to correct an impaired vision without professional help.
Following are few ways for the same:
Having a proper nutrient enriched diet is very important to maintain proper functioning of your eyes. Every nutrient works on different parts of the eyes and has a different role.
- Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the mineral zinc, contain antioxidants and help prevent macular degeneration. It’s a condition in which the macula deteriorates. These nutrients are found in vegetables and fruits such as carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, sweet potato, citrus etc.
- Evidence suggests that diets rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids may have ocular benefits. Salmon fish is a major source of omega 3 fatty acid. Flaxseed and chia seeds are the plant based sources of the same.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin, the carotenoids found in the retina, helps protect the macula by improving pigment density in that part of the eye, and absorbing ultraviolet and blue light. These are found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, zucchini, and eggs.
Yoga provides a series of exercises that improve the functioning of the eyes and helps to overcome various eye related problems such as myopia and hypermetropia. Mentioned below are a few simple exercises to improve eyesight.
- Palming: Sit quietly with eyes closed. Rub the palms of your hands vigorously until they become warm. Now place your warm palms over your eyes. The warmth transferred from your palm to your eyes will help the eye muscles relax.
- Blinking: while sitting comfortably with your eyes open, Blinking 10 times very quickly. Close your eyes for 20 seconds and focus on your breath. It’ll help to keep your eyes moist.
- Rotational viewing: sit with legs straight in front of your body. Place your left hand on the left knee and hold the right fist above the right knee with thumb pointing upwards. Keeping the head still, focus your eyes on the thumb and make a circle with the thumb while keeping the elbow straight. Repeat this exercise five times each in a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction. Repeat the process with your left thumb as well.
Other such exercises are up and down viewing, preliminary nose tip gazing, near and distant viewing, front and sideways viewing answers sideways viewing. You can easily find these on the web and follow regularly for a healthy eyesight.
Wearing protective eye wears
We participate in a variety of activities in our everyday lives that affect our eyes such as reading in dim light, swimming, staying in direct sunlight, scrolling a smartphone, staring at computer screens for long hours, working in a science lab, or dusting your house. Our eyes are a very sensitive part of our body that requires proper care. A range of protective eyewears are available these days in the market such as:
- Study glasses with blue cut and uv protection.
- Swimming goggles to prevent chemicals from the pool entering your eyes.
- No cry safety glasses.
- Polarised sunglasses for better protection.
- Sports sunglasses etc.
Our body works as a whole. Every body organ is connected to the other organs and affects their functioning. Similarly the overall fitness of our body affects our eye health as well. Some of the diseases/conditions that affect our eyes are type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis.
Type 2 diabetes, more common in overweight people, causes damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eyes. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream injures the delicate walls of the arteries and causes them to leak blood and fluid into the eye, harming the vision.
Diabetes also doubles the chances of having glaucoma which can lead to vision loss and blindness if not treated early.
Hence, keeping a check on blood sugar levels and staying fit can prevent diabetic retinopathy.
High blood pressure can lead to stroke which can also cause vision loss or damage the area of the brain responsible for processing images. High blood pressure also causes chronic inflammation and inflammation of the optic nerve, can cause pain and even complete vision loss.
Though, high blood pressure can be effectively treated with a heart-healthy diet, exercise and antihypertensive medications.
Our eyes work throughout the day and get strained, which is not good for our eye health. To prevent straining of eyes you can follow the 20-20-20 rule.
That means every 20 minutes, you should stop staring at your computer and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
These are a few ways to maintain the overall health of your eyes and improve your eyesight to some extent.
Making these tiny changes in your lifestyle will work wonders for your eyes and will provide you with better eyesight. These will take longer to act as there’s nothing like a quick and easy solution.
Though, these things won’t work if you have a serious eye issue such as cataract, conjunctivitis or xerophthalmia.
Visual impairment blindness cases in US: https://www.nei.nih.gov/about/news-and-events/news/visual-impairment-blindness-cases-us-expected-double-2050
Effect of UV radiation:
Importance of omega 3 fatty acids:
Yoga exercises for eyes:
Effect of Diabetes: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-eye-disease#:~:text=Diabetes%20can%20lead%20to%20swelling,other%20signs%20of%20diabetic%20retinopathy.
Effect of hypertension:
This blog post is written by extremely talented Anjali. This was her first health blog, so I would appreciate it if you guys can show her some support.
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That’s it for now…. Take care of your eyes and don’t forget to smile.