We are all guilty of taking things for granted, whether it’s our natural abilities as a human being, or the material aspects of our lives that we have become accustomed to. It’s not until something is jeopardised that we take a step back, which brings me onto this month’s topic; eyesight, something I feel very fortunate to have.
As an inquisitive 15 year old girl, I came very close to completely losing my vision. I saw a snake reel its way into a bin, and rather stupidly looked inside to see what kind of snake it was; unsurprisingly it felt threatened and spat straight into my eye. Perhaps by pure luck, I had recently watched a programme on the steps to take if such an incident happened, so I knew to immediately rinse out my eye with water and milk. This instant reaction stopped me from losing my sight completely, and all that remains is a tiny brown mark, to remind me of this potentially life-changing encounter.
Naturally, because I came so close to losing it, vision is incredibly important to me, and something I feel very grateful to have. But I have now reached a rather frustrating stage in my life, when I can’t read a menu in a restaurant without reaching for my glasses! This is, of course, part of the natural aging process, but it’s worth taking some simple daily steps that will give you clear vision, for longer.
Blink and you’ll miss it!
In this digital age, we spend more time in front of a screen than any other generation, whether it’s a TV, phone, computer or tablet. Screens have become part of our daily lives and we are looking at them for longer. We subconsciously get locked into a stare and blink less, which puts a strain on our eyes. Wherever you are, try not to get zoned out for too long, and keep your eyes fresh and healthy by remembering to blink!
In the palm of your hand
Another great way to prevent eye strain and relieve tired eyes, is to follow a simple technique called palming:
- Sit down, rest your elbows on your knees and take a couple of deep breaths.
- Place your hands over your eyes with the cup of your palms, resting the heel of your hands on your cheekbones.
- Allow enough space between your hands and your eyes to blink, making sure that little or no light peers through, so that your eyes are in darkness. Hold it there for a few minutes.
- This simple, but extremely effective method will rest your eyes as well as your mind.
Great habits from an early age
As well as resting your eyes, it’s also important to give them some exercise, to help with focus. Try holding your thumb at arm’s distance and then follow it towards your nose. A variation of this technique is very effective for children who struggle with reading. Encourage them to move their thumb in a ‘lazy 8’ motion (a figure 8 turned on its side), keeping their head still and just following it with their eyes. Repeating this every day for three weeks will improve their reading. You could also try placing sheets of clear acetate plastic in varying colours over the print in a book, to establish which colour makes reading easier for them.
It’s not a myth, but carrots do help us see more clearly at night. Why? They are high in beta carotene which helps the body produce vitamin A; essential for good eyesight. If you suffer from dry eyes, eat more carrots or a good mixture of colourful fruit and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants and help protect the eyes from free radical damage.
Kath’s tips for a clearer vision
- Remember to blink and take a break from screens if your eyes feel tired.
- Relax your eyes and your mind with the palming technique.
- Exercise your eyes by following your thumb from arm’s distance to your nose. Try the ‘lazy 8’ technique with your children.
- If you struggle to focus, buy some pinhole glasses (or trayner glasses). If you already wear reading group glasses you’ll be amazed at the difference. They don’t look great, so you may prefer to use them at home! trayner.co.uk
- Eat plenty of carrots or colourful vegetables. Any black/purple berries are also great for eyesight.
- There are a number of supplements available to strengthen eye metabolism; anything that includes lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc or blackcurrant. Do get in touch if you would like more details.