Improve Your Eyesight: 13 Vision Boosters That Have Nothing to Do With Eating Carrots

Your brain receives more input from your eyes than all your other senses combined: They supply half the total information in your conscious mind. Protect these vital organs from damage and disease with these surprising, simple tips.

Smell your eye make-up

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You have probably never thought about bacteria lurking in your mascara and other eye cosmetics, but germs love these products and can end up causing eye infections. Discard your eye makeup every three months. If you balk at throwing away unfinished (and often pricey) cosmetics four times a year, try the sniff test: Simply smell them before use, suggests the Mayo Clinic. Mascara will smell just as bad as fish does when it’s not fresh.

Eat sunshine-colored foods

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Make sure your dinner plate contains a splash of yellow or orange. Egg yolks and a wide range of orange or yellow vegetables, including carrots and pumpkin, are good sources of zeaxanthin and lutein. These vital nutrients help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the most common cause of blindness in older people. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have reported that people in their 50s who regularly eat food containing the yellow pigment that gives egg yolks their bright color are less likely to develop AMD. Dark green vegetables, including kale, cabbage, spring greens, spinach, cos lettuce, broccoli and zucchini, have the same beneficial effect. Here are quick recipe ideas for vision-protecting foods.

Send your children outside

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An indoor lifestyle could have a negative effect on children’s eyesight, leading to an increased risk of myopia (nearsightedness). Scientists at Cambridge University found that children spend too little time outside, where the light is natural and the horizons are further away. Making more use of distance vision and increased exposure to ultraviolet light are the principal health gains of having regular time playing outside, the scientists reported in the journal Ophthalmology. Studies show that every hour children regularly spend outside reduces their risk of near-sightedness by 2 percent.

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Get tested for glaucoma

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Ask your optometrist about having a test for this serious eye condition. The disease, a leading cause of blindness, is caused by a rise in pressure inside the eye. Early diagnosis can save your vision because prescription eye drops can prevent the otherwise inevitable damage to the optic nerve. The International Glaucoma Association recommends testing at least every two years if you are over 40, closely related to someone with glaucoma, near sighted, diabetic, or of African-Caribbean origin.

Take a break

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If you work long hours in front of a screen in artificial light, you are increasing your chances of becoming nearsighted, according to Californian eye specialists. Take regular short breaks away from the screen and walk around the office to exercise your eyes as well as your legs. If possible, alternate your work duties so you reduce the length of periods spent in front of a screen. And make a determined effort to get out of the office at lunchtime. One way to remind yourself to take breaks? Set an alarm. Time it to beep every 30 minutes to remind you to look up and away from your computer, preferably at a distant point for at least 30 seconds. This helps prevent eye fatigue and eye strain.

Don't tell the children

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You may constantly warn your children of the dire consequences of sitting too close to the TV, but this causes no long-term damage to eyes. The worst it can do is tire your eyes or stress them temporarily, which may cause problems in focusing until they have rested. All the same, it’s better for your child’s eye health to play outside than to sit in front of a screen, at whatever distance.

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Wear eye protection

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You may wear goggles to protect your eyes from chlorine in the swimming pool, but what about other occasions when your eyes may be at risk? If splinters, dust, and other small particles get into your eye, there is a risk of corneal abrasions that could threaten your vision. The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that 90 percent of eye injuries could be avoided by wearing protective eyewear. Be sure to safeguard your eyes while cycling, doing DIY jobs (particularly sanding and sawing) and even gardening (bamboo canes, twigs, and thorns can pose a serious hazard to your eyes).

Walk for 40 minutes

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If you have glaucoma or are in a high-risk group (for example, if a close member of your family has the disease) being physically fit can reduce symptoms. Research over 20 years has shown that people with glaucoma who walked briskly for 40 minutes four times a week reduced their intraocular pressure enough for them to stop taking medication for the condition.

Keep clear of smoke

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Smoking is as bad for your eyesight as it is for the rest of your body. Research showing a link between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and smoking is now as robust as that between smoking and lung cancer, with evidence that cigarette smokers are up to four times more likely to be blinded by AMD compared to non-smokers. What’s more, this risk continues for up to ten years after smoking cessation. Here are ways to quit smoking naturally.

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Cool your feet

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Make sure that the vents that deliver cool air into your car are aimed at your feet rather than at eye level. Specialists warn that the dry air from car air-conditioning systems sucks moisture out of your eyes, which can cause discomfort and put you at greater risk of eye infections and even ulcers. The same goes for the air conditioning in planes, trains, and even in offices. Check where you are sitting and adjust the vents if you can.

Eat fish for moist eyes

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Scientific research has found that eating oily fish helps to prevent dry eye syndrome. This irritating condition, which is common in older people, occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. The result is itchy, red eyes that can be slightly painful. Harvard researchers, who studied the diets of thousands of women, found that those who ate the least amount of oily fish, and therefore had the lowest intake of omega-3 fatty acids, had the highest risk of dry eye syndrome. If you’re not keen on eating oily fish, you could choose supplements, which work as well as having fresh fish, according to the researchers. Or try one of these omega-3-rich foods for people who don't like fish.

Get wraparound protection

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You may already know that wraparound sunglasses offer the best protection for the eyes against the damage of ultraviolet rays during sunny weather. Researchers now suggest that wearing sunglasses of this type on a cloudy day is also beneficial for your eye health. Exactly why this is so is not fully understood, but one theory is that the glasses also protect against the drying effects of wind and against pollution. The Mayo Clinic offers the following tips when choosing sunglasses: Choose glasses that offer 99-100 percent UV protection. If you get polarized lenses, which are useful for reducing glare, make sure that they also offer the eyes UV protection. Opt for large lenses, which exclude the most light. Wraparound styles are the best.

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Lower the screen

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You can reduce your risk of suffering from dry eyes while working at a computer simply by positioning the screen just below eye level. This will mean that your eyes will naturally close slightly when you’re viewing the screen, which minimizes fluid evaporation.

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