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Woman's blue eye

How to look after your eyes naturally

We only get one set of eyes, so it makes sense to look after them as best we can. Discover the best nutrients to help protect your peepers.

As we age, natural changes occur which can affect our vision and eye health. These include presbyopia, where the lens stiffens and it becomes harder to focus on objects close by – hello reading glasses!

We can also experience dry eye syndrome, where the eyes either don’t make enough tears or our tears evaporate too quickly. This leads to a gritty, sore feeling and red, irritated eyes.

Ageing eye conditions

Some more serious eye conditions are also a result of getting older. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is caused by damage to the retina – the layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye – and can lead to blindness. Signs of AMD include blind spots and seeing wavy lines.

Cataracts, where the lens clouds over and makes it difficult to see clearly, are another by-product of old age. No one is really sure what causes cataracts, but a family history of cataracts and some conditions including diabetes can make developing them more likely.

Keep an eye on eye health

It's advisable to have an eye test every two years (more often if you have any eye conditions) so your optician can monitor any changes in your eye health.

Your diet can also make a significant difference to how your eyes age. The following natural ingredients have been scientifically proven to help keep your peepers healthy:

Lutein and zeaxanthin

These free radical-fighting antioxidants are carotenoids, or the yellow pigments, found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale. They naturally collect in the macula – the central part of the retina – and absorb the harmful blue rays from sunlight that can damage retinal cells, acting like a natural pair of sunglasses.

Studies show getting enough lutein and zeaxanthin significantly reduces your risk of AMD. In a major piece of US research into age-related eye diseases, the AREDS2 study, people who had poor amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in their diets were 25% less likely to get AMD when they took these nutrients as supplements. Time to get your daily green juice, or start taking a supplement.

Omega-3 for eye health

Taking fish oils may help to ease dry eyes and improve the quality of the tear film, which stops tears evaporating from our eyes. A study published in the Journal of the British Contact Lens Association in 2015 reported that those taking omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, for three months had a decreased tear evaporation rate.

Up your dose of omega-3 by eating two portions of oily fish a week or taking an omega-3 supplement.

Handpicked content: 5 surprising reasons you need omega-3

How antioxidant vitamins can help

AREDS studies have also shown that the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E can help slow down AMD. They may also help improve tear quality.

Researchers in the US and China have linked these vitamins with a reduced risk of cataracts too, although studies concluded that more research is needed.

You can try taking supplements of vitamins A, C and E, or look for a formula containing a targeted blend of nutrients for eye health.

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
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