Welcome to Healthy Vision Month! As we’re highlighting the importance of healthy vision, our experts are taking the time to share the relevance of diet and exercise and how healthy lifestyle choices directly impact eye health. Too, a lack of these healthy habits can also lead to systemic, whole-body diseases – like diabetes and hypertension – which can also lead to eye problems. Read on to hear what our experts have to say…
The Role of Diet in Vision Health
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), studies have shown that a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables can protect against blinding diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. Specific recommendations include leafy greens, oranges, avocados, and cantaloupe.
Research has also indicated that there may be select vitamins and nutrients that can help reduce intraocular pressure (IOP), which is the main cause of symptoms and blindness in glaucoma patients. These vitamins and nutrients include:
- Vitamin A – found in carrots, cantaloupe, and squash
- Vitamin C – found in oranges, strawberries, peppers, pineapple, and raspberries
- Antioxidants – found in cranberries, flax seeds, pomegranates, and acai berries
- Carotenoids – found in kale, corn, spinach, egg, broccoli, and green beans
In general, choosing generous amounts of fruits and vegetables for snacks and as a part of meals helps to promote eye health and protect vision, while also promoting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
How Does Exercise Impact Vision?
When it comes to exercise, the current recommendation is moderate exercise equaling 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Exercise promotes healthy blood vessels in the eye, which research has proven leads to higher eye resilience. This heightened resilience can protect against the overgrowth of blood vessels, a symptom commonly found in eye conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
Exercises that you can simply incorporate (that can also be very fun!) include:
- Active Gardening
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s a great place to get started and generate ideas for exercise that works for you. Similarly to healthy food choices, implementing exercise in everyday life not only promotes eye health, but also general health and wellbeing.
Whole-Body Diseases & Eye Problems
While proactive lifestyle choices – such as diet and exercise – can aid in preventing eye problems, systemic whole-body diseases – such as diabetes and hypertension – can lead to eye issues. For example, people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at a heightened risk for eye complications such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 75% of patients who have had diabetes for more than 20 years will have some form of diabetic retinopathy in their lifetime.
For hypertension, it is important to be aware that high blood pressure is a risk factor for eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. Hypertension can also affect vision by leading to blocked veins and blocked arteries in the retina, which can contribute to permanent vision loss. Our experts recommend prioritizing health as much as possible to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, due to their contributions to eye problems.
Implementing a healthy lifestyle can be sustainable and enjoyable. There are so many benefits to beginning this journey, including the positive impact on vision. Our experts are here to support each step of the way, and are happy to provide guidance on the best lifestyle choices to make to support vision and eye health.