“Eat your carrots and you’ll be able to see in the dark!” Anyone else fall for this kind of parental persuasion when they were young? Well, it turns out maman wasn’t kidding about carrots.
Thanks to the pandemic skyrocketing the need for screen time, plenty of us have experienced symptoms of eye strain over the past year. Tired dry eyes, blurred vision, light sensitivity, difficulty concentrating, head, neck or backache... it’s quite the list.
So just how careful should we be with our eyes? For guidance, we’ve put together some tips for optimum optics a.k.a. happy eyes.
The right set-up can help us avoid the slump-and-stare trap while working. Aim to have the top of the screen at or just below eye level, with a viewing distance of approx. 40-70cm (arm’s length) from your eyes. You can also adjust brightness, text size, contrast and colour profile to find your ideal view.
Oui, seriously. We need to blink 15 to 30 times a minute. But the more we stare at screens, the less we blink. Eye drops can ease dryness but don’t underestimate the power of drinking enough water. In winter, with radiators cranked to max, opening windows occasionally or using a humidifier brings much-needed moisture to the air.
Lush though it is to loll in that patch of sunshine, full-on brightness streaming through a window makes us squint and strain to see. Ideally, it’s better to have a window to one side rather than behind or in front of you, to limit distracting reflections on the screen or dazzling face-on light. If fluorescent overhead lighting affects your vision, try low-level lamps with softer bulbs. You want glow, not glare!
Diet and general health play a big part in nurturing healthy vision, as diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be linked to poor nutrition.
Antioxidants help reduce the risk of damage to the retina. Back to those carrots: they’re a good source of beta-carotene which the body uses to make Vitamin A, which helps lubricate the eye and boost night vision. They also provide lutein (as do peppers, spinach, egg yolks) which help tackle eye degeneration. Oui maman!
Powerful antioxidant properties are also found in Vitamin E so we need leafy greens, nuts, seeds and oily fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel) on our plates.
Of course it’s not just what we put IN our bodies that counts, but what we DO with them i.e. less viewing, more moving. As well as smart eating and alcohol intake, staying fit limits risk of diabetes, high blood pressure or narrowing of the arteries which can lead to sight loss. And did you know smoking is the second biggest risk factor for macular degeneration after ageing? Adieu aux cigarettes…
We were all warned as children (when our parents weren’t stuffing us with carrots) never to look directly at the sun. They were right – again – and it’s vital your shades provide enough protection from ultraviolet rays.
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Aim for regular eye tests, once every two years, or more often if your optometrist advises. As we age, we may need glasses specifically for computer use or driving. If you have different prescriptions for different tasks, you could try varifocals which let you view everything – near and far – with a single pair of specs.
Bienvenue to one of our favourite tips: the 20-20-20 rule. Because it really helps! When you’re looking at a screen, every 20 minutes try to look away at something more than 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives our eyes time to fully relax. Naturellement, there’s an app for this.
We all want to see the world – however big or small ours is – for as long as we can. As someone once said: