About Dr Brian Ang

Eye Health: Healthy Lifestyle Habits

A healthy lifestyle is important for your general and eye health. This sounds pretty obvious and common sense. The healthier your body is in general, then the healthier your eyes and vision will be. A healthy body plays an important role in regulating the immune system throughout all organ systems, including the eye.

A strong immune system helps to maintain your eye health by enabling your eyes to better withstand viral and bacterial infections, such as in bacterial or viral conjunctivitis and keratitis. And even if you were to succumb to them, your recovery period will be quicker and your chances of being afflicted by the same virus or bacterium may become significantly less. The same goes for recovery periods from trauma and other eye problems.

(Image adapted from the internet)

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis recover faster if the immune system is in good health.

So is it easy to adopt the kind of healthy lifestyle options that you need to keep your eyes working in good order? The answer is a resounding YES! The truth is that most of us are already engaging in activities that are good for your general and eye health.

Simple things like regular exercise. The exercise does not have to be strenuous or involve extreme physical exertion. Walking to a level that is sufficient to raise the heart rate, such as when taking the dog out for a run, is a good start. Swimming is another excellent form of exercise. Even taking out the garbage on a regular basis helps!

By keeping your heart and circulation active, you improve your cardiovascular performance and blood flow to the important systems in our body; this reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Remember that vascular disease affects all vessels in all systems, not just the vessels of the heart (myocardial infarction / heart attack) or brain (stroke). Reducing the vascular risk factors through regular exercise means that you decrease the chances of your eye health being affected by vascular eye problems, such as retinal vein occlusions.

(Image adapted from the internet)

Cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, are important risk factors for retinal vein occlusions. Retinal vein occlusions cause visual loss from macular edema, retinal hemorrhage, vitreous hemorrhage and tractional retinal detachment.

Another important but often overlooked health lifestyle factor is rest and relaxation. Having sufficient rest ensures that your body recovers from its daily exertions and stresses, including that which occurs after exercise. It has been known for some time that stress affects the way the body handles internal and external insults. Stress may affect eye health by triggering certain eye problems, such as uveitis and central serous chorioretinopathy.

Devoting time to relax your mind and body, such as through yoga or simply doing something you enjoy doing, not only helps prevent eye problems to occur in the first place, but also makes you feel much better overall.

(Image adapted from the internet)

Stress increases the risk of developing central serous chorioretinopathy (CSCR). In CSCR, a blister of fluid develops under the retina at the macula, thereby causing vision to drop.

Finally, as far as healthy lifestyles are concerned, smoking is a big no no, whether active or passive. What’s the big deal with smoking? Well, the big deal is that the chemicals contained within cigarette and cigar smoke are toxic to virtually all systems in the body, and are very damaging to your eye health. These harmful chemicals include tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNAs), benzene, pesticides, arsenic, and cadmium, cyanide. These toxins circulate all around the body and cause oxidative damage to the lens and other parts of the eye.

Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease as well as vascular eye problems. Smoking reduces the ability of your body and eyes to fight infections. The chemicals in cigarette smoke irritate the eye and exacerbate symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Not only that, smoking is also known to worsen cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Smoking is also a trigger factor for uveitis.

While smoking is also associated with lung cancer (and increased mortality), there is no strong evidence to suggest that smoking is associated with eye cancers, at least not yet anyway. Nevertheless, there are enough reasons to stop smoking for the sake of your eye health alone. You have been warned!

(Image adapted from the internet)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in Western countries. The risk of developing AMD may be reduced significantly by cutting down on cigarette smoking.

Learn more about healthy lifestyle habits for cataract here

Learn more about healthy lifestyle habits for glaucoma here

Learn more about healthy lifestyle habits for macular degeneration here

Learn more about healthy lifestyle habits for diabetic retinopathy here

Have a great eye health maintenance tip?

Do you have a great health tip to maintain the health of your eyes and vision? It doesn’t matter if it is not recognized or recommended by your doctor – in fact, that’s even better! Why not share it with other readers?


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