One of the way to protect your eyes is by eating smart. Foods that are high in vitamin C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and lutein can help to prevent degenerative diseases related to age, like cataracts and macular degeneration. Some of the foods that are high in these nutrients are leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach, and others. Also nuts, flax seeds, beans, oranges, and other citrus.
Eating a diet with the amount of calories recommended for your activity level will help maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, you are at risk for diabetes if you don’t already have it. The leading cause of blindness for adults is currently diabetes and children are getting diabetes at increasing rates.
Another concern for children and women is contact with smoke, either from cigarettes or cooking. Children are more sensitive to smoke than adults are, and repeated exposure to smoke can cause cataracts when they are older. Sources of smoke in a kitchen include food spilled on burners and left to burn off, oil lightly burning in a skillet, burned toast, over baking, unattended cooking food that starts to burn, and others. Be sure to take special care not to let food burn in the kitchen and tell children to leave the room if something does start to smoke. Smoke contains carcinogens, carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other dangerous organic particles.
Another area of concern is children’s eye injuries. An estimated 42,000 sports-related eye injuries happen each year in the US. It is better to find safe outdoor exercise opportunities
for your children and avoid rough sports or ones with fast moving balls. You can also provide your child with protective eyewear to wear during sports.
Children who spend a lot of time with close to the eye activities like reading, using electronic devices and computers, and putting puzzles together have a greater risk of becoming nearsighted. Children who spend more time outdoors have a lower risk of childhood nearsightedness. In the 1970s only 25% of people in the US were nearsighted as compared to 42% of people today. Today, over 80% of people in Asia are nearsighted. With the high use of electronic devices in those countries, it is likely a major cause.
Pets like reptiles and spiders can provide special risks for eye problems. Many of these animals have salmonella on their skin. If a child handles these animals and then rubs their eyes it can cause serious illness. Cats and dogs with long sharp claws are also a risk to children’s eyes, as they like to play with their faces close to these animals. Keeping your animal’s claws clipped can lessen the risk. Also instructing children about the risk and how to avoid problems is wise.Written by Daniel Baldwin