Healthy Ways to Improve Eyesight

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

There are many gimmicks out there that claim they can improve your eyesight. But do they really work? Which are real and which are scams? After all these are the eyes we are talking about. We are given one set for life and we need to take care of them to the best of our abilities. If our eyes get damaged we could be in some real trouble. The eyesight can never be taken for granted. It is not like breaking a fingernail because it will always grow back. We just cannot grow back new eyes. So, what we put on them and in them must be done with great care. Yet there are many authentic ways out there to improve our eyesight. We need to just be savvy to what will really work and don’t work. This could involve doing eye exercises or changing dietary habits to help improve eyesight.

The Natural Way

Usually we need to have our eyesight corrected but we can improve our sight by natural means. A very good way to improve eyesight naturally is to consume the right kind of foods. Taking vitamins will help keep our eyes at peak performance as well. Here are two common vitamins and antioxidants we can consume to help our eyesight:

  • Vitamin A (deficiencies hurt our supply of a pigment called rhodopsin that’s critical for seeing in low light and at night)
  • Lutein

Lutein is a pigmentation found in abundance in a layer of the retina where pigment-packed cells shield the eyes from excess light. Solid research supports the idea that lutein taken as a supplement will improve the visual acuity naturally. Lutein is an antioxidant found in common foods such as fruits and vegetables such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard.

Many of the vitamins and antioxidants that improve sight naturally are found in the following foods:

  • Carrots, kale, spinach, and collard greens (vitamin A and lutein)
  • Liver (vitamin A), including cod liver oil
  • Swiss chard, zucchini, and brussel sprouts (lutein)
  • Sweet potatoes and butter (vitamin A)

Exercising the Eyes does it Really Work

It is noted by one expert that while it is claimed that eye exercises are supposed to improve eyesight naturally and cure nearsightedness. The Bates method says palming, movement and visualization techniques to reshape the eyeball and improve vision. Yan Bao Jian suggests massage and acupressure as ways to relieve strain and eye problems. But this expert says that these exercises have no more than placebo or anecdotal results. The expert also says that visual therapy is a serious area of optometry that addresses problems with alignment, tracking, and strain, there is no scientific support that these visual exercises  will help make the visual sharper. The expert suggests that  our eyes cannot be corrected without professional help and that there is no quick and easy ways to improve vision. But good nutrition and diet we can help our eyesight naturally using our own methods. But you should always talk to the eye doctor before you start any independent treatments.

Help Yourself

It is said that really the only way we can correct our eyesight is by lenses or surgery. But we can improve our eyesight with some practical but natural methods. But we need to decipher fact from fiction. For instance, it is said that carrots will help our eyesight but will they really? You remember when we were young that our parents told us to eat carrots so we would have good eyesight. This wasn’t necessarily a total myth because carrots do contain healthy amounts of beta carotene and vitamin A which can contribute to our eyes’ health. These elements may provide an effective source of vitamins for macular degeneration and cataracts but this needs to be researched further to prove to be viable. Carrots are also a rich source for rhodopsin (a purplish-red light-sensitive pigment present in the retinas of humans and many other animal groups.). Rhodopsin is a purple pigment helps us see in low-light situations; Without rhodopsin we couldn’t see very well at night even with a cloudless sky and a full moon. We cannot be fooled into thinking that if we eat carrots all the time it will give us extraordinary vision. It don’t but it can help keep our eyes healthy.

During WWII the myth of carrots improving visual acuity came into being. Food was in short supply but not carrots. The British Royal Air Force claimed that because they ate carrots they    

experienced an increased ability to see the enemy at night. This was a myth started to get people to eat more carrots. This visual myth still exists today and is not entirely true but a very exaggerated version of how carrots can help our eyesight.

Super Vitamins to help Improve Eyesight

Vitamin C is a health powerhouse. You can find it in fruits like oranges, kiwi, and strawberries, as well as vegetables like broccoli, mustard greens, and peppers. In addition to providing antioxidants, it can also slow cataracts and supply needed vitamins for macular degeneration. Vitamin E, depending on which study you read, can be a great help against cataracts and macular degeneration. You can find this vitamin in the following foods: almonds, pine nuts, dried apricots and sunflower seeds. We talked about lutein before but it may help with healthy vision. Lutein like zeaxanthin are carotenoids that provide great antioxidants that may help against age-related vision problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and fatty acids will go a long way in keeping our eyes healthy. Here are some tips to help us keep our eyes healthy:

  • Vitamin A, C, and E, along with minerals like copper and zinc should be incorporated  into our daily diets. These vitamins and minerals are essential for good vision and protection against disease.We can eat strawberries, oranges, eggs, salmon, mackerel, and almonds for our vitamins, and oysters, crab, or turkey for our minerals. These are some unique suggestions to help keep our eyes in top shape.
  • Antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin help protect your eyes from getting sun damage. You can find these antioxidants in dark leafy vegetables, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Antioxidants seem to play a crucial role in healthy eyesight
  • Garlic, onions, and caper should be in our diets so we can get sulfur, cysteine, and lecithin, which protect the lens of our eyes from forming cataracts. These are unusual diet components to have for healthy eyesight..
  • Blueberries, grapes, and goji contain anti-inflammatory properties, such as anthocyanin, that will help improve our vision. Remember plenty of fruits is recommended to be a part of our diets to keep our eyes healthy.
  • About 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day will help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eyes. Salmon, mackerel, herring, flax seeds, and walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids. This is contrary to speculation that we should have a low consumption of fatty acids to maintain optimum eyesight.

Exercise our Eyes

Eye exercises have not been proven to help with improving our actual eyesight. But the potential may be there.

  • Start simple. Roll your eyes in a circular motion clockwise ten times and then reverse it counterclockwise for another ten rolls.
  • Place your thumb (or a pen) six inches away from your nose and stare at it for five seconds. Then, five seconds on an object immediately behind your thumb. Try to do this ten times for about a total of two minutes. This is something else you can do at your desk quickly at work.
  • Rub your palms together for heat and then placing them against your eyes for five to ten seconds. Repeat this procedure three times to keep your eyes warm.
  • Massage your temples, forehead, and just below your eyes by using your thumb knuckles in a small circular motion for about twenty times in each area.

Good Old Rest

This is a common sense approach to maintaining eye health. We need to rest our eyes and relax them. We can do this by taking breaks throughout the workday. We need to get a full night’s sleep to maintain healthy eyesight.

  • Shut down for about three to five minutes. Close your eyes and lean your head back while trying to clear your mind of thoughts.
  • Focus on an object that is twenty feet away for twenty seconds. This is the same test you are administered to check for 20/20 vision.
  • Try resting your eyes for at least ten minutes for every fifty minutes you spend in front of a computer screen, television set, or reading a book. Take a quick nap if necessary.

Correction Coming

There is nothing wrong with getting contact lenses or glasses to correct poor visual acuity. Some recommend lasik surgery. But the surgery may carry too many risks to be a healthy option. The first step is to get an eye exam.

  • See your doctor based on age, health, and risk of eye problems. These are factors that will determine how often you should see your eye optometrist. If you are experiencing and difficulties with eyes, visit an optometrist as soon as you can as earlier treatment leads to better results.
  • Check your visual acuity to determine if you will need prescription eyewear.
  • Get screened for glaucoma, which is damage to your optic nerve. If left untreated, it will get worse over time.

Get Some Eyewear

This may be a step we need to consider and that is to get a pair of glasses. It is a relatively cost-effective way to improve our eyesight over the long term.

  • Eyeglasses are the most accessible and safest route to correct problems caused by vision impairment. You can get a range of eyeglasses: bifocals, trifocals, progressive lenses, reading and driving glasses.
  • Contact lenses are a popular choice as well. They are worn directly on your eyes and come as hard, soft, extended wear, disposable, and rigid gas permeable and bifocal.
  • The most important factors in choosing eyeglasses or contact lenses are safety and lifestyle choice.

Refractive Surgery

Basically a doctor performs surgery to reshape the cornea and supposedly the technique has been refined over the last couple of decades. But the long term risks still exist and this may not be the best option to choose to improve our eyesight with.

  • A laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery removes layers from your cornea and is repositioned to help you attain your desired level of vision. It is painless, immediate, and does not require a long recovery period.
  • A laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK) is a procedure that reshapes the cornea’s outer layers and changes its curvature to improve vision. Compared to LASIK surgery, LASEK surgery takes longer to recover from, may be more painful, and is more complicated in post-surgery recovery, but still a very successful procedure.
  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is similar to LASEK surgery, but instead of the cornea it’s the epithelium that gets reshaped. Recovery includes wearing a bandage contact lens for a few days.
  • An intraocular lens (IOL) implant is surgically implanted into the front of the eye’s lens. Implants are not a popular treatment option at this time.
  • Conductive keratoplasty (CK) uses radiofrequency energy to apply heat to the cornea. The biggest drawback to this procedure is that the results are not permanent.
  • Side effects of refractive surgery include visual side effects, under or overcorrection, dry eye, infection, cornea scarring, and vision loss.

Those side effects are very serious and may require a second surgery. Or the side effects may not be able to be corrected. Lasik surgery involves a great risk.

Good Environment Anyone

This involves using the right lighting in our various settings. We should avoid fluorescent lighting because it gives off the wrong light frequencies of color and emit radiation that makes you drowsy all day long. Some of us have worked in environments that use fluorescent lighting and it hasn’t damaged our visual acuity.

  • When reading, try to keep your light source located behind you and keep the light directed on the paper or the task you are working on.
  • At work, or at a desk, use a shaded light source positioned on the desk in front of you. Again, keep the light directed towards your work and the shade will protect your eyes from direct light from the source.
  • Avoid watching television or working on the computer in the dark.

Breathe Quality Air

Dry occurs when there is a lack of lubrication and moisture on the surface of our eyes. This may cause dry which can cause a minor irritation pain to serious inflammation of the tissues of the eye. The latter issue could lead to permanent eye damage and loss of visual. 

  • Use a humidifier to moisturize your house or workspace.
  • Adjust your thermostat to reduce airflow and dust particles that might irritate your eyes.
  • Move your desk or office space if it is near a vent. Request moving to a different area of the office.
  • Quit smoking because it can inflame your eyes. Consider stopping if you develop a dry eye condition.
  • Use artificial tears if necessary to keep your eyes moist and lubricated.

Some of the air quality options may be extreme therefore unnecessary.

Eye Glasses will Help

Eye glasses may be the healthiest and safest route to take for improving our eyesight. People usually don’t like the way they look in glasses though. Yet it is a good option for a healthy improvement of our eyesight.

  • Prescription and nonprescription lenses are made for nearly all types of lifestyles. There are different types of lenses for age, sports, and indoor and outdoor wear.
  • If you work outside or have to drive long distances make sure to buy polarizing sunglasses to protect your eyes again UV light and glare. This will help prevent squinting.
  • Make sure you wear glasses for as long as you need to and keep them clean.

Computer Usage at a Glance

Computer viewing these day is virtually impossible to avoid. We can save our eyes from excessive computer usage by taking frequent breaks from our computer screens. We need to exercise our eyes and keep them hydrated.

  • If you tend to stare when you use a computer remind yourself to blink often in order to produce tears that moisten and refresh your eyes.
  • While you are on the computer practice the 20-20-20 rule: Every twenty minutes look at something twenty feet away for at least twenty seconds.
  • Reduce glare on the screen to avoid straining your eyes. This means you should adjust lighting in front and behind you.
  • Keep the monitor positioned directly in front of you at about arm’s length away. The screen should be approximately just below your eye level. Adjust your chair if necessary.
  • Use the convenience of a paper holder so you can keep your eyes relatively on the same level as the computer screen. Reducing the amount of times your eyes have to readjust will lessen eye strain.
  • Enlarge the font size, contrast, and brightness for easier reading and browsing.
  • Keep your screen clear from dust.

Conclusion

So we see that there are healthy ways to improve our eyesight. Some of the suggestions are not clinically proven to improve our eyesight. But some of the options are sure ways to improve our eyesight in healthy and practical ways.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.