Vision: a fragile sense
The 5 senses are developed even before the child is born. Sight is the sense that appears last, around 32 weeks of gestation. Vision is a complex and very fragile system . The eye is similar to how a camera works. The pupil plays the role of the diaphragm and the lens takes care of the development to converge the images on the retina. The latter is made up of multiple receptors to analyze colors and shapes when everything is working properly. These receptors send information to the brain so that it can process and integrate it in order to become aware of the world around it. All of the structures that support the functioning of sight are extremely fragile. Visual disorders can be the consequence of a visual defect present at birth, an eye anomaly, an ocular pathology or simply aging of the eye and all of these structures. . In France, 68.4% of people are affected by vision problems.
What are vision problems?
There are more than thirty vision disorders . Among them, we can cite achromatopsia (an abnormality of color perception), albinism (impaired vision due to depigmentation of the eyes), ametropia (refractive disorders which prevents clear vision), asthenopia (fatigue inability to perform a sustained visual task), color blindness (color vision disorder), glaucoma (optic nerve disease), myopia (distance vision disorder), hyperopia (vision disorder up close), AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and many more…
What are the causes of vision problems?
There are many causes of vision problems . Very often, it is a genetic character which affects the shape of the eye, the lens, the cornea, the opacity of the structures, the functioning of the retinal receptors (cones and rods), the integrity of the retina, etc. It can also be an accident causing eye shock with retinal detachment followed by vision loss even leading to blindness. Aging is also a factor in visual impairment. With age, the structures of sight become fatigued and begin to degenerate. Sight-related cells are among the few cells in the human body that cannot perform cell renewal processes. This is why sight is a very fragile sense that must be carefully maintained. Some environmental factors can also cause eye damage, such as UV radiation. Studies highlight eye fatigue due to prolonged use of screens. These return a potentially harmful blue light for long-term sight.
However, there are studies contradicting this phenomenon. As a precaution, you can activate the blue light filter on your smartphone or wear blue light blocking glasses. Food is an environmental factor that should not be overlooked. A good diet contributes to good health, this is the case for eye health. We will see later which foods are good for maintaining eye health.
How stress affects vision health?
In cases of chronic stress , our body will secrete adrenaline and cortisol in abnormally high levels. This will induce an imbalance in the central nervous system and risks affecting eyesight in the long term. We speak of visual stress when there is a perceptual disorder caused by hyperactivity of the visual cortex.
What are the symptoms of the impact of stress on eyesight?
Adrenaline and cortisol levels can affect your eyesight in different ways. You are likely to experience eyestrain, which may or may not be accompanied by headaches . Your eyes may be more sensitive to bright lights. Your vision may become blurry, with decreased peripheral vision.
How to limit the impact of stress on eyesight?
With our current lifestyles, most of us spend most of the day on screens. Whether you are at home or at work, it is important to take regular breaks. Ideally, your vision should regularly shift towards the horizon in order to rest your eyes. Far sight is said to be at rest, the structures of the eye which allow an adjustment of the perception of what surrounds us are not used when we look into the distance. So, remember to look towards a window when possible, or to the end of the room, for a few seconds 4 to 5 times per hour. Blinking your eyes regularly allows your eyelids to hydrate them well and limit problems linked to dry eyes. Favor outdoor activities to get better oxygen and allow your eyesight more rest thanks to distant vision. Don't neglect your diet or your sleep.
What foods are good for eyesight?
According to an INSERM study carried out in 2006, good intakes of omega 3 would reduce the risk of AMD. The recommendation is 2 servings of fish per week, including 1 fatty fish. It is beneficial to consume vegetable oils rich in omega 3 such as rapeseed, flax or camelina oil.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, two natural pigments, play a key role in vision health (1). These pigments will protect the macula from light radiation. The macula is the area at the back of the eye which contains all the receptors allowing the normal functioning of vision. These two pigments are found naturally in certain green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and asparagus, in certain reddish fruits and vegetables such as peppers and oranges, but also corn and eggs.
In herbal medicine , you can supplement with French marigold (Tagetes erecta). It is a plant rich in lutein and zeaxanthin that you can find in many food supplements developed to contribute to vision health. Foods classified as antioxidants are beneficial in combating oxidative stress which is harmful to retinal cells. Olive oil contains polyphenols which play an antioxidant role. Brazil nuts have a very high content of selenium which is a mineral with strong antioxidant power.
Be sure to also get vitamins C, A and E, as well as zinc and iron. These substances help limit oxidative stress. These nutrients are largely present in fruits and vegetables as well as oilseeds. Also remember to hydrate yourself well to maintain the integrity of your cells and thin your blood to better oxygenate your body.
Eye yoga to combat eye fatigue
Eye yoga is a method from Ayurvedic medicine developed in 1920 by Doctors Bates and Agarwal. It is a method which allows the rehabilitation of the eyes by working the 6 muscles which are involved in the movements of the eye. The research of these two doctors led to the observation that the quality of vision was partly due to the flexibility of these eye muscles. Thus, they developed methods of eye exercises to improve the flexibility of these muscles. Eye yoga can be practiced at any time of the day. The more regular you are in this practice, the more results you will see against eye fatigue. The exercises should be performed without pressure or tension. Each exercise should be repeated 5 to 10 times. And remember to blink regularly to lubricate the eye.
Eye fatigue and red eyes: our advice to avoid itRed eyes and eye strain are often the result of staring at screens for long periods of time. If you often work or study at a computer, it's important to take breaks and let your eyes rest every 20 minutes or so. Here are other tips to avoid eye strain and red eyes:
- Adjust the brightness of your screen . Make sure your screen brightness is set to the lowest level that is comfortable for you.
- Use a blue light filter . Many devices (computers, smartphones, etc.) have a blue light filter that you can turn on to reduce the amount of blue light emitted by the screen.
- Blink often . When you're staring at a screen, it's easy to forget to blink frequently enough. Remember to blink often to keep your eyes moist and lubricated.
- Drink plenty of water . Dehydration can lead to eye strain. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Limit your screen time . Spend less time on the computer, in front of the television or on your phone. Give yourself some time each day to unplug and relax.
If you experience eye strain or red eyes, try these tips to reduce the symptoms. If symptoms persist, consult an optometrist or ophthalmologist .
Here are the steps of the eye yoga method:
- Scan your eyes from left to right, then up and down, looking as far as possible (without pain).
- Then make circular movements with your eyes in both directions.
- Try thinking of a letter of the alphabet and then drawing it in your head with your eyes, as if your eye were holding a pencil. You can reproduce this exercise with several letters, for example by writing your first name.
- Then, focus on an object close to you, then a second object far away, and extend your view beyond this second object. Perform this exercise in reverse.
- Then take a pencil or any other object that will serve as a guide for your eyes. With your hand, slowly move this pencil closer and further away to work on adjusting and focusing your near and far vision.
Between each series of exercises, rest your eyesight. To do this, you can close your eyes and place your hands on them so that they no longer perceive a light source. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute then slowly release your hands from your eyes so as not to send too harsh a light stimulus to your vision. Try to repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times a day. Sight is a precious sense, take care of it!
- JF Korobelnik et al., 2017. Effect of Dietary Supplementation with Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and ω-3 on Macular Pigment. JAMA Ophthalmology. 135 (11): 1259 - 1266.