Happy New Year! Congratulations to one and all for making it through another year. Now, let’s talk resolutions. We don’t all make them, but an awful lot of us do – over half of all Americans are estimated to set goals every year, most of which are related to health or exercise. Losing weight is statistically the most common goal, hence the well-known phenomenon of the January gym rush.
But one part of the body tends to get left in the treadmill-dust. This year, whether you’re slimming down or bulking up, don’t forget to get your eyes in on the action. Healthy vision does some wonderful things for anyone’s quality of life, so keep a resolution or two for your peepers. We’ve included here a few things to think of while making those promises about healthier eyes.
Select Your Goals
Any self-improvement program needs concrete goals to succeed. It’s awfully hard to decide when you’ve succeeded at “exercising”, but much easier to hold yourself accountable for the three weekly gym visits you resolved to make. Your eyes need some goals too. Look for areas where you know you can improve your vision habits, and make changes that you know will have some positive impact.
Make sure to match your resolutions to lifestyle, profession, and other personal considerations. Now, if you’re suffering from a serious disorder, such as glaucoma or cataracts, then making your resolution gets a lot easier: find appropriate help. For the rest of you just looking to make common-sense alterations to keep your eyes healthy, then read on, and we’ll list a few possible problem areas that might call for resolutions.
Hit the Gym!
Yep, it’s the oldest resolution around, but it’s a good idea. Aerobic exercise does a body a whole world of good, and eyes can absolutely get in on the action. A pair of recent studies tracked an enormous cohort of 41,000 runners over the course of seven years. The first found that consistent long distance runners were considerably less likely to develop cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens, which can eventually lead to blindness) than their more sedentary peers.
The second focused on age-related macular degeneration. AMD is a condition that seriously impairs vision in the center of the visual field (macula), and is caused by age-related damage to the retina. It’s a serious, and relatively common, problem for anyone over 50 years of age. And, like cataracts, it’s seemingly affected by exercise. Distance runners enjoyed a nearly 20 percent reduction in their risk of experiencing AMD.
Both of these studies focused on extremely committed runners, so take them with a grain of salt. However, they do at least show that if you’re on the edge of starting a running regimen, there’s likely one more good reason to do so.
Take Some Breaks
For many of us, the greatest threats to vision are in the workplace. Many Americans spend their work days staring at computer screens, a problem that isn’t helped by the fact that most of us spend our leisure time also staring at computer screens. These long, unbroken stretches of screen time can cause some serious eye-related troubles.
Prolonged computer work hits the eyes a couple of different ways. First, as you may have noticed, computer screens encourage the “zombie stare”, or the fixed, unblinking gaze that you’ve likely seen all around you during tense office days. Dry eyes are often the result, and they’re not to be taken lightly. They’re severely uncomfortable, and often cause burning, itchy, or “gritty” sensations. Chronic dryness will very occasionally cause nastier problems, and can even lead to a loss of vision. Second, all that time staring at a screen right in front of your eyes will strain eye muscles, leading to intense discomfort.
The solution? Take a break. Give the 10-10-10 Rule a try to give your eyes a rest. Look away from the screen every so often. Doing so breaks up that stare, helping to fight eye dryness, and letting your eyes focus on a far-field object for a change prevents muscular strain. Resolve to follow these rules, and you’ll be doing your eyes a favor. Work timers are easily found, and are a simple way to remember to relax.
If your day-to-day instead takes you outside, then there’s a different set of risks to keep in mind. Sunlight’s not great for your peepers, pretty as it is. Stay out for too long, and you can wind up with photokeratitis, basically a sunburn of the eyes, that’s often described as feeling like sand in the eyes. Even worse, cancerous tumors can also develop after excessive UV exposure.
The solution’s fairly simple. Don’t spend too much time outside without eye protection. This applies even on cloudy days, as UV light is the issue here, and it can still come through in overcast conditions. Ideally though, wear your shades. A good pair of sunglasses can sharply cut down on the amount of UV reaching your sensitive eyes.
A Different Sort of Workout
No matter where you work, you can also benefit from an eye exercise program. Getting your eye workouts in should be an easy resolution to make. Doing so helps stave off some of the vision loss that inevitably comes along with age, and can help improve your quality of life for years to come.
If you’d like to learn more about natural solutions for healthier eyes, then feel free to check out our Natural Vision Improvement Articles. You can also find information on eye-specific vitamins, another good supplement for healthy eyes.