There’s a lot of clamor about the harmful impacts of unhealthy lifestyle choices on cardiovascular health. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of sleep and a sedentary job impact about three-fourths of heart disease cases in women.
Though many individuals have begun to understand the serious implications of their erratic habits and dietary choices on their heart health, a lot remain clueless about the repercussions of these factors on their eyes. They attribute most of their eye problems either to genetic factors or age. The fact of the matter is that weakened eye health is a result of far more than just these two factors. Wondering how? Here are five shocking ways your lifestyle isn’t stressful just to your heart, but to your eyes as well:
5 ways your lifestyle can stress your eyes
Poor nutrition – You must have heard the popular phrase, “You are what you eat”. Quite unsurprisingly, the phrase holds true even for good eye health.
Studies suggest that eating foods rich in vitamins A, C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc help fight age-related vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. Enjoy leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and cabbages rich in carotenoids; citrus fruits like oranges, lime, rich in vitamin C; and carrots packed with beta-carotene. Egg yolk is a rich source of lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc, which also reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Smoking – You’re aware of the impact smoking can have on your respiratory health, but did you know how badly it can affect your eyes? Studies suggest that smokers have a two to three-fold increase in the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration as compared to nonsmokers.
Research also has it that smokers are also more likely to develop uveitis, a condition caused due to the inflammation of the eye’s middle layer. Uveitis can result in the development of cataract, glaucoma, and even vision loss. People suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy that damages retinal blood vessels and results in vision loss. Smokers are also at a higher risk of developing diabetes and subsequently, diabetic retinopathy.
Lack of zzz’s – As years progress, a lot of people’s sleep cycles get shorter. Owing to their hectic schedules and job workload, people often compromise on their sleep to stay on track with their responsibilities without realizing the consequences.
Not only does lack of sleep make you groggy, lose focus, contribute to dark circles, coronary disease, diabetes, stroke, and obesity, but it also impacts eye health in a big way. One of the most common side effects of lack of sleep is myokymia, commonly known as eye spasms. Though they aren’t painful, they can be highly annoying and hinder productivity.
Sleep deprivation can also result in dry eye syndrome that causes redness, irritation, and even blurred vision. One of the serious consequences of sleep apnea is glaucoma (damaged optic nerve) which is one of the leading causes of blindness. Make sure you catch at least 7-8 hours of sleep daily.
Working conditions – You might be right about the fact that working long hours in front of your computer can help you get a fat bank balance (and a fat torso). It can, however, also deteriorate your eye health. You can become susceptible to a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain by long usage of computers, smartphones, and tablets. Common symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome include migraines, eyestrain, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain. It can also increase your risk of developing short-sightedness. Make sure you keep at least 20 – 28 inches distance from your computer screen and use screen glare filters.
Lack of physical exercise – If you’ve been postponing your early morning jogging plans for as long as can be, here’s another reason for you to start exercising right away. Many studies have shown that physical activity plays a great role in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Make sure to get at least 45 minutes of intense physical activity 5 times a week. Join one of Paula’s challenge groups to keep yourself accountable!
Having understood a strong association between an unhealthy lifestyle and poor eye health, it is important that you make conscious changes in your way of life. The gift of vision is truly priceless and caring for it is in our hands.