FY(eye): Eyes use about 65% of your brainpower. That's more than any other part of the body!

Our eyes are amazing! They’re such an important part of our daily function and do so much for us every day. We often unknowingly place our eyes under unnecessary stress and leave them susceptible to injury. We can’t always avoid putting stress on our eyes or dodge every incident that may hurt them. Fortunately, there are a few adjustments that may help protect and nourish this complex part of our body. Below are some simple changes that can benefit the health of your eyes.

20/20/20 Rule. Between work and home, we’re increasing the hours we spend in front of television, computer and phone screens. Our eyes are forced to constantly adjust to different colors and sizes of objects between all the texts and funny cat videos we view on the daily. When looking at a screen, you actually blink less often, which can leave your eyes feeling tired, dry, and irritated.

After 20 minutes of staring at a screen (about the time it takes to stream your favorite episode on Netflix) take a break from the screen for at least 20 seconds and look at something that is about 20 feet away. Letting your eyes focus on something that is at a more comfortable distance than the phone in your hand or the TV screen in front of you allows your eyes to relax and reset. There are even apps and software programs to help remind you when it’s time to put the screen down and give your eyes a vacation.

Bliiiiiink. All of those i's aren’t a typo, it’s a way to remind you to take a long blink for your eyes. Close your eyes, keep them closed for a few seconds and then open them slowly. Blinking is a part of your natural body function and it keeps your eyes healthy. Consciously thinking about blinking will help your eyelids do their job and give your eyes a well-needed break, even if it’s just for a few seconds. There’s a lot of content lately about how good mindfulness is for our overall well-being, so consider mindful blinking a great way to help your eyes too.

Adjust Your Screens. Ways to reduce the strain on your eyes while working on the computer include having anti-glare screens put in and ensuring that images are clear and don’t flicker, increasing the font size on your screen, making sure the screen is at eye level, and using a larger monitor. In some cases, people need different glasses for computer work, so ask your eye care professional if you notice any difficulty or discomfort when looking at the computer screen.

See the Right Light. Lighting should be adjusted so that it is neither too bright nor too dim. If lighting is too bright a glare can appear on you television, computer, and phone screens and this glare can cause your eyes to strain. If lighting is too dim, reading printed text may also cause eyestrain or dry eyes. A soft desk light on the side can help reduce stress on the eyes. In addition, there are several awesome phone and computer applications that adapt the color of your screen to ease eyestrain depending on the time of day and natural light in the given area.

D-eye-Y Protection. Do-It-Yourself projects at home can lead to a great sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, they can also cause eye injuries if you aren’t properly equipped. Before mowing your lawn, inspect it for any debris. You might even want to wear goggles or sunglasses to be on the safe side. Eye protection should be worn when sawing, sanding, and drilling. Fine particles can cause irritation, while large particles may cause serious damage. If something ever does become caught in your eye, don’t rub your eye because this can cause further harm. If you can’t wash it out, seek professional assistance. When handling paints and chemicals, make sure you read the instructions beforehand to know if you need eye protection. If these products come in contact with your eyes you should flush your eyes out right away for about 15 minutes and consult a medical professional if irritation persists.

Give Your Eyes a Sporting Chance. Make having the right eye protection when participating in sports part of your equipment check. There are specific goggles for skiing and swimming. Any racquet sport where a small ball is used also poses a particular danger of eye injury. If you’ve had any eye problems in the past, especially problems that required surgery, you should consult an eye professional before participating in any contact sport.

Another Reason to Quit Smoking. Smoke often irritates eyes and prolonged smoking can lead to more serious problems including chronic dry eyes. Smoking also significantly raises the risk of developing cataracts. These cataracts can eventually lead to blindness. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of several health problems including those that cause vision loss.

Watch What You Eat. While taking the appropriate steps to protect your eyes, you might also want to consider making changes towards a healthier diet. Studies show that Vitamins C, Vitamin A, folic acid, selenium and zinc help slow down age-related eye conditions. Because they’re packed with nutrients, eating fruits and vegetables can be especially beneficial to your eyes as well as to you overall health. Carrots are great, because they are high in Beta Carotene, a type of Vitamin that is good for your eyes. Did you know that blueberries are one of the healthiest foods for your eyes? Add them to smoothies or your breakfast batter so you can have your (pan)cake and eat it, too.

As people become more and more health-conscious, it’s important to remember the importance of your eyes and consider how they help you function throughout the day. By taking simple steps to protect your eyes and provide them with essential nutrients, you can help improve your chances of having good eyesight far into your later years.

This resource is only a guide and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or ignore professional medical advice because of something you have read on a website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call a doctor, dial 911 or go directly to a hospital Emergency Room (ER).

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health Hub

All About Vision

American Optometric Association

Virtual Medical Centre

Eye Doctor Guide