How can I improve my eyesight naturally?
My top tips to support your eye health are:
- Consume antioxidant-rich foods
- Rest your eyes
- Try eye drops
- Eat more fruit
- Take a zinc supplement
Let's take a look at these in more detail so you can begin to look after your eyes from now on in!
Get those antioxidants!
Antioxidants are readily available in healthy, and usually very colourful, foods. They can support eye health in a number of ways.
First off, antioxidants are protective against oxidative damage, which is associated with most degenerative eye diseases. Research shows that consuming two particular antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, could reduce the risk of degenerative eye diseases in women under 75.1
The retina is especially susceptible to oxidative damage because it consumes a lot of oxygen, contains a high concentration of polyunsaturated fats, and because it is exposed to a lot of visible light. This means it is set to benefit highly from more antioxidant-rich foods!
Also, to be able to absorb and filter damaging light, the eye needs protective pigments laid down in a thick layer. Fortunately for us, these pigments are found in antioxidants, which are themselves readily available in healthy foods!
Fruit and vegetables that are red, yellow, green and orange tend to contain lots of antioxidants so there's plenty of reason to get more of these in your diet
Did you know?
Risk factors for poor eye health include:
- Poor diet
- High alcohol consumption
- Working with computer screens
- Doing lots of driving
- Long hours of television viewing.
Take time out
Are you guilty of spending your free time on a phone, computer, tablet or in front of the television? Or perhaps it is your job that involves using these kinds of devices regularly.
Staring at screens for long periods of time with great concentration and little rest can lead to tired, dry, strained and irritated eyes. Part of this is to do with the fact that we blink less when looking at screens, which means the eyes get less moisture and are less able to clear irritating particles.
Also, the iris and pupil are held in place by muscles that have to dilate and constrict to control the amount of light that can enter the eye. This means the eyes are constantly working hard and need an opportunity to rest and recuperate.
So, this makes it very important that you take time out to relax your eyes. If you work with computers a lot, a good tip is to cup your hands over your eyes every so often. Keep your hands there for a few minutes then take them away and focus on something further away than your screen. This gives the eyes a good stretch, so you may feel some release from doing so.
Experiment with fruity flavours!
Dark fruits such as blackberries, blueberries and blackcurrants are particularly good for eye health as they contain flavonoids which stabilise the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the eyes.
The flavonoids in blackcurrants are known as anthocyanins and proanthocyanins. These are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties, but they also help to strengthen blood vessels and improve blood flow. As an added bonus, blackcurrants have a very high vitamin C content, which is also good for eye health!
Blueberries, on the other hand, contain vitamin A, in addition to vitamin C and those powerful flavonoids known as anthocyanins. Some of these anthocyanins are able to bind to part of the retina that's responsible for vision. This increases the speed at which visual pigments in the retina are able to regenerate, and it stabilises the tissue structures around the eye. Blueberries are also thought to increase how quickly the eyes are able to adapt to darkness.
To consume all of these delicious, eye-boosting fruits, I recommend whipping up a smoothie. Check out our range of smoothie recipes or, if you're adventurous, you could mix up your own with the contents of your fruit bowl!
The benefits of exercise are well-known but you may be yet to consider how it can help your eyes.
Well, exercise improves circulation which will increase blood flow to the eye, as well as to other areas of the body. Activities like yoga, Pilates and swimming are all good ways to improve the flow of blood to your head.
However, even the undemanding activity of blinking can help your eyes, especially if you work at computers. So, I'd advise training yourself to blink at least once every few seconds for a boost to your eye health.
Zinc is the most beneficial supplement for eye health. This mineral is found in high concentrations in the retina, so is thought to be important for eye health and function. It can also benefit other areas of our health, including immune function; so, there are lots of reasons to get more of it.
Zinc can be quite hard to come by in foods, so a supplement is a good way to increase your intake. You can tell if you are low in zinc by looking at your nails. If white specks appear, it's a clear sign you are deficient.
If taking a zinc supplement, the recommended adult dose is 15mg to be taken with food. Take the supplement until symptoms, including white flecks on the nails, have gone.