July is Eye Sun Safety and Protection month. Are you protecting your eyes from serious sun damage?
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can be damaging to your eyes causing macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans; cataracts, the clouding of the eye’s natural lens (the part of the eye that focuses the light we see); pterygium, a growth on the cornea and the white of the eye, which blocks vision; skin cancer around the eyelids; and corneal sunburn, which can be very painful and cause temporary loss of vision. Lower your risk for these harmful sun side effects and increase your eye health by protecting your eyes from UV rays this summer.
While UV rays can affect everyone’s eyes, people who work, play or spend lots of time in the sun are especially affected. Children are at high risk and need to actively prevent UV ray damage because their eyes have not developed the same ability to protect against UV radiation as adults’ do.
Sunglasses are a great way to prevent all of these different types of eye damage. Sunglasses filter light and protect against damaging rays. Hats also block UV rays, cutting the amount of UV rays that reach the eye by half! So when spending time in the sun this month, make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses, and do not forget to protect your children, too!
While sunglasses and hats can help protect eyes from UV damage, there are plenty of things that you can eat to promote eye health as well! Carrots may be the best known, but there are plenty of different foods that can help provide vitamins C & E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help keep your eyes strong and healthy, fighting many of the diseases listed above.
Spinach, Kale, Dark Leafy Greens and Brightly-Colored Fruits:
These foods are high in antioxidants which protect eyes against sunlight, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. They are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin which go into the lens and retina of your eye and absorb damaging visible light. Kale is especially high in these two nutrients.
Grapefruit, Strawberries, Brussel Sprouts, Papaya, Oranges and Green Peppers:
Vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants to protect your eyes and these foods are full of it!
Nuts, Seeds, Wheat Germ and Vegetable Oils:
These foods help provide sufficient vitamin E, which most people’s diets lack. Vitamin E paired with vitamin C helps keep eye tissue strong.
Two oysters provide more than your daily dose of zinc, which helps keep your retina working at it’s best. If you’re not a fan of oysters, you can also get a good dose of zinc from meat & poultry, fortified cereals, beans, nuts, shellfish, and whole grains.
Salmon, Sardines and Herring:
These fish provide high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which help fight inflammation in the eyes and keep your cells working better. Plus, they are also great for heart and brain health, too.
Deep Orange and Yellow Fruits and Veggies:
Orange and yellow fruits and veggies like carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes provide high amounts of beta carotene, which helps to prevent night blindness.
So remember to keep your eyes safe this summer by pairing protective gear like sunglasses and hats with foods that offer plenty of eye health nutrients.