Diet and exercise
Most people don’t realise the effects your lifestyle can have on the health of your eyes. In fact, obesity has been identified as a major contributor to a loss of sight; people that are obese are twice as likely to lose their sight according to research conducted by the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind people). Obesity contributes to serious conditions including:
- Age-related macular degeneration (the most common cause of blindness amongst adults in the UK)
- Diabetic retinopathy (a condition which causes damage to the retina and is associated with type 2 diabetes)
- Cataracts (the risk of developing cataracts is doubled in people that are obese)
In order to battle obesity, you need to make changes to your lifestyle including a change of diet and a new exercise regime. Losing weight will not only help your eyes but will also reduce the likelihood of you suffering from serious, potentially life-threatening health conditions including high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Swap your old diet for one that is high in fibre and low in fat and try to get at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day (this can include soups, sauces and juices). In addition, try to choose wholegrain versions of complex carbohydrates as these are often higher in fibre and lower in fat and sugar.
As well as eating healthily, you need to incorporate exercise into your daily routine; exercise coupled with eating well is the most effective way to control your body weight. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week; exercise need not be boring so make sure you vary the activities you do. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and increase self-esteem as well as providing a host of health benefits.
Another important change you can make is to stop smoking; smoking is a major contributor to macular degeneration (people that some are up to four times more likely to develop this condition that non-smokers) and cataracts (smokers are three times more likely to get cataracts than non-smokers).
Make sure you protect your eyes in the same way that you protect your skin from the sun. Wear sunglasses with dark lenses to block out the strong UV rays that come from the sun. Sunglasses that have a CE mark or a BS EN 1836:1997 mark have been passed according to British standards and should provide the necessary protection for your eyes. Avoid looking directly into bright sunlight; this can cause damage to the retina and lens and may, in some cases, cause permanent blindness.