Dr. Kimberly Cockerham, a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University, says that she’s seeing more vision problems in younger eyes these days. Too much screen time, right?  Only partially so.  It turns that too much screen time is only one of the culprits…anything that hurts your heart hurts your eyes, including stress, poor nutrition, smoking (does anyone still smoke?), and obesity are other villains to blame for our rise in vision problems.   Check out this list of things to do and not to do that will help your eyes.

  1.  Screens are the most obvious.  Keep all your screens 16″ away from your face.  It turns out that screens expel a blue light that may be linked to macular degeneration or impairment of the central vision.  Be conscious of fully blinking when looking at your screens.  Not fully blinking can lead to dry eye, pain and fatigue.  If keeping your screen 16″ away from your face makes the words/images too hard to read, bump up the text size.
  2. Stress can cause impaired retinal function and/or blurry vision.  Lower your cortisol (stress) levels with exercise, meditation and/or music.
  3. Reading anything too close to your face makes your eyes work harder.  Do the 20-20-20 thing…every 20 minutes, take a break from what you’re reading and look at something 20′ away for 20 seconds.
  4. Clumsiness can be terrible for your eyes.  A blunt trauma to your eye from a ball or an elbow is the most common cause of vision loss in young men.  Wear protective glasses when you play sports.  If your eye takes a direct hit and you see spots or arcs of flashing light, go to the ER and do not pass GO.
  5. Eat lots of leafy greens.  Leafy greens are filled with nitrates and lutein.  Eat 240 milligrams a day to help promote blood flow to your retinas.
  6. Get rid of that extra weight and stop smoking.  Know that 1 in 3 obese men do not make it to age 70.  A diet rich in fatty fish, fruit and veggies (particularly vitamin C, zinc, lutein and nitrates) help your eyes by reducing the risk for serious eye diseases.