The Art of Eye Maintenance

The Art of Eye Maintenance

Unless we’re having a really bad spelling day, there’s no ‘i’ in beauty.  But there’s certainly a lot of beauty in the eye. Studies show that our eyes are the first thing someone looks at when measuring how attractive we are, whether they can trust us, or want us as a mate. 

Putting aside for one moment any thoughts about just how shallow that makes us, what this small truth says is this: if we care about how we look and how others see us, as well as our general eye health, then we need to take care of our eyes, inside and out.  

In all, there are 3 key areas we should attend to if we want to keep our eyes healthy and looking good - exercise, diet, and our beauty routine.

Let’s break it down.

Exercise: The 20/20/20 Rule for Eye Health

As impossible as it might seem, for hundreds of thousands of years we got by without staring for hours on end at a mobile phone or a television.  During this time, our eyes developed to work in a certain way, never focused for too long on one thing, always moving between the close up and the far away.

Now though, things are different.  Because, technology.  Mobile phones, laptops, televisions, gaming consoles.  We spend our lives staring at screens for work and pleasure.  And the problem with that?  Eye strain, that’s what, as well as its consequences, which include dry eyes, headaches, deteriorating vision, and neck, back and shoulder pain. 

Like the rest of our body, our eyes need exercise.  And they’re simply not getting it; not if we spend most of our day locked into our mobile phone or our laptop.  Time then, to start exercising.

The best place to start is with the 20/20/20 rule, which involves giving our eyes a break every 20 minutes.  We need to drag them away from our screens (honestly, it’s possible!) and focus on another object roughly 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, before going back to whatever close-up activity we were doing.  This will not only give our eyes the exercise they need, but also help them relax and lessen strain.

Every hour or so, we should also get up from our desk or sofa and go stand by a window filled with natural light, or even head outside for 5 minutes.  This helps give our eyes a real break, especially if, as we soak in the world around us (something that’s good for our soul, as well as our vision), we make a conscious effort to exercise our eyes by focusing on objects that are near to us, then far away.

We should all remember though, if we’re out in the sunlight for an extended time, to wear sunglasses with polarized lenses.  Sunlight can be good for us in small doses (Vitamin D, baby!) but prolonged exposure to UV rays can harm our eyesight and has been linked to conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. 

Diet: Eat the Right Foods 

We all know how important our diet is if we want to keep our weight down or even care for our skin, but eating the right foods also plays a role in eye health.  Here’s some important nutrients and supplements we should (haha!) keep an eye out for:

    • Lutein and Zeaxanthin are important nutrients that help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. They can be found in green vegetables like kale and spinach, as well as in eggs and oranges
    • Vitamin C is similarly important for our eyes, especially when it comes to supporting the health of blood vessels in the eye. Grapefruit juice can be a good choice here, although vegetables like broccoli, green and red peppers and leafy greens are a better bet if you are looking to minimize your sugar intake (but remember – when it comes to fruit and vegetables, and particularly those where you eat the skin, eat organic if you can, to minimise exposure to chemical pesticides!).
    • A number of studies have shown that Vitamin E plays a positive role in improving vision. This is because it protects eye cells from unstable molecules called free radicals, which break down healthy eye tissue. Nuts, avocado and spinach are all good sources of Vitamin E. 
    • Essential fatty acids, which can be found in fish or walnuts, can help preserve vision, as well as relieving dry eye and chronic inflammation of the eyelids.
    • Zinc has been shown to protect against macular degeneration and night blindness.  Good food sources of zinc include oysters and other seafood, beef, eggs, black-eyed peas, tofu and wheat germ.
  • And finally, it seems mom knew a thing or two after all!  Beta-carotene really is good for our eyes. Our bodies transform it into Vitamin A and this helps with night vision and sensitivity to light.  We all know it can be found in carrots, but other sources include spinach, broccoli, raspberries, and apricots.

  • Oh, and what about foods we should avoid?  Are there any types of food that can actively damage our eyes?  Sadly, the answer is yes.  In particular, studies have shown that diets high in sugar, polyunsaturated fats, and even salt, can harm our eyes.  If you really want to care for your eyes (and your general health, in truth), then try to reduce your consumption of fried foods, soft drinks, sugary sauces, processed meats, and ready meals.

    In the end, it’s all about common sense.  Eat well for your wellbeing.  Eat well for your eyes.

    Beauty: How to keep our eyes bright and beautiful

    Let’s start with what we shouldn’t do. We shouldn’t pickle the skin around the eyes with toxic chemicals, that’s what!  And yet, this is exactly what most of us do, mainly because they’re found in a lot of eye creams and moisturizers, as well as most of the eye makeup currently on the market.  

    We need to stop.  These chemicals can lead to a variety of conditions ranging from red, scaly eyelids to serious long-term health conditions.  Benzalkonium chloride, for example (otherwise known as BAK) is well documented to be toxic to the epithelial cells of the eyes, which not only help protect the eyes from environmental irritants but also help them absorb and distribute nutrients.  Given that BAK is a preservative commonly found in eyeliner, mascara, and makeup remover, this is a major concern.  Likewise, ingredients that have been linked to cancer like formaldehyde, parabens, and retinyl acetate are still found in too many eye products.  

    In the end, we have a choice when it comes to the products we use to enhance our eyes.  Either we learn about the ingredients that are linked to detrimental effects to our health (and slavishly read every single ingredient list we come across), or we buy natural and organic eye products.

    The second option is undoubtedly easier (and the one we recommend!), especially since a number of great organic face and eye creams are now on the market, as well as an increasing number of natural makeup products for our eyes.

    This blog post was written for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. For individual health concerns, The Organic Skin Co. recommends that you consult with a relevant health professional.