Did you know:
- Our eyeballs stay the same size from birth to death, while your nose and ears continue to grow?
- An eye is composed of more than 2 million working parts.
- 80% of our memories are determined by what we see.
- Humans and dogs are the only species known to seek visual cues from another individual’s eyes, and dogs only do this when interacting with humans.
- A fingerprint has 40 unique characteristics, but an iris has 256, a reason retina scans are increasingly being used for security purposes.
- 80% of what we learn is through our eyes.
- Eyes are the second most complex organ after the brain.
These days we live in an age where our children are looking at back lit phones and screens from a very early age. School lessons are now being delivered on devices, and homework is emailed. As adults we spend even more time gazing, gawping and glaring at computer screens at work all-day – in between checking our social media and newsfeeds on our smartphones. Then we go home and spend our time off on the internet and watching TV and films or gaming. With TVs smartphones, laptops and tablets a major part of our lives, it is easy to understand how some of us are knocking on 12 hours a day staring at a screen at a short distance.
Staring at a brightly lit screen for hours and hours will eventually take a toll on your eyes. These complex little organs are busy processing millions of tiny bits of information and sending these up to your brain to create some order and logic to what you are “seeing” so you know what you are looking at. Is it any wonder our eyes are itchy, red, aching and seeing double when you finally glance up and try and see something in the distance?
Research shows computer vision syndrome (CVS) is now very common. Your eyes are working extra hard, looking down to type correctly- then back up to the screen, dealing with changing the focal distance quickly but usually only for a short distance. Screens also flicker and are brightly backlit, which adds further strain to your eyes.
So what do to?
Minimise your exposure to screens, be mindful of just how much time you have spent looking at your phone and computer. Try and look away into the distance every 20 minutes or so to rest your eyes. Don’t forget to blink! Silly as it sounds – when we are staring at our screens we literally forget to blink as often, which causes that dry scratchy feeling. Research shows we usually blink around 18 times each minute, and this drops to less than half when we are engrossed in our phones. Adjust your settings on the screen to reduce the brightness, and increase the font size if required to be more comfortable for your eyes. Make sure too that you (and your children) have a regular check-up from your optician to rule out any other medical conditions other than CVS.
Your diet and plenty of water are so very important for your eye health. We all got taught the importance of eating carrots to be able to see in the dark – that’s because they contain vitamin A, which is vital for your eyes to function correctly by helping the retina to function properly. But there is more to eye health than just eating carrots….
Leafy greens are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, important antioxidants that studies show ¹ lower the risk of developing eye issues.
Eggs pack a punch with good levels of lutein and zeaxanthin plus zinc.
One handful of almonds each day provides about half your daily requirement of vitamin E, which your body needs to help prevent macular degeneration.
Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna are rich in DHA, an polyunsaturated fatty acid essential for maintaining health retinas and good night vision. Low levels of DHA have also been linked to dry eye syndrome.
Finally, citrus fruits and berries are the powerhouses of vitamin C which provides antioxidant protection for those peepers. Blackcurrants in particular are showing some remarkable results for eye health. NZ grown blackcurrants are known to have a very high anthocyanin content – a potent antioxidant. Comparative tests carried out by the Crop and Food Research Laboratories in New Zealand indicated that New Zealand blackcurrant fruit are up to 3 times higher in antioxidant activity than blueberry and bilberry.
Natural supplements that contain the herb eyebright, blackcurrants and lutein can also be helpful to nourish your body and support eye health. It is important to remember supplements should never replace a healthy, balanced diet or act as sticking plasters for poor food choices. Take them in addition to a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, oily fish and locally raised, free-range eggs, poultry and meat. Don't forget exercise and plenty of water too.
We’d Love Your Feedback
How much screen time do you get per day, and do you notice your eyes getting sore or tired from this?
Have you tried an eye supplement to help?