6 ways to improve eyesight naturally and protect your vision

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6 ways to improve eyesight naturally and protect your vision
Wearing sunglasses is a great way to protect your eyes from damage.Mireya Acierto/Getty images
  • One of the best ways to improve eyesight is consuming enough vitamin A which can be found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
  • You can also protect your eyesight from further damage by wearing sunglasses or protective safety goggles if you work in a high-risk environment.
  • If you want to improve your eyesight, take a break from your screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds.

Wearing glasses or contacts can help you see more clearly, but there are other important ways to improve your vision. Many parts of your lifestyle can affect your eyesight, including what you eat, what you wear, and whether or not you smoke.

Here are six natural ways you can improve your eyesight and protect your eyes from harm.

1. Make sure you are getting enough vitamin A

"Most of us have heard that carrots are good for our eyes. The main reason for that is carrots are high in the vitamin A family," says Sunir J. Garg, MD, an eye doctor and professor of ophthalmology at Thomas Jefferson University.

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Getting enough vitamin A is vital for your eyesight because it helps your retina, which is the tissue at the back of your eye, communicate with your brain, Garg says.

Cells called photoreceptors in your retina sense light and send a signal to your brain to interpret what you're seeing. "The main molecule responsible for and creating the signal is a type of vitamin A," Garg says.

Some foods that are good sources of vitamin A include:

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6 ways to improve eyesight naturally and protect your vision
Yuqing Liu/Insider

Garg recommends eating three servings per week of foods rich in vitamin A to help prevent eye diseases that damage your retina, like macular degeneration.

2. Quit smoking

"Cigarette smoke, as well as all of the toxins in it, are bad for every part of our bodies," Garg says. In fact, smoking can damage your retina and cause macular degeneration, a condition that can make your vision blurry or create dark spots in your vision.

This is because smoking can reduce the amount of oxygen that gets to your retina and damage the tiny blood vessels in your eye.

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"We know that smoking is the main modifiable risk factor for macular degeneration," Garg says, adding that it's never too late to quit smoking and prevent retina damage.

3. Wear sunglasses

When you go out in the sun without sunglasses, your eyes may be exposed to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) light. This can damage your cornea, the clear layer of tissue that sits over your pupil.

High exposure to sunlight can also cause some people to develop skin cancers in the delicate skin around the eyes, and occasionally on the surface of the eye, Garg says.

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But not all sunglasses are helpful since some don't filter UV light. In fact, wearing sunglasses without a filter can actually be worse than no sunglasses at all.

"The pupils can dilate when we're wearing sunglasses. When the pupils are dilated, more harmful rays can potentially enter the eye," Garg says.

To protect your eyes, you should look for sunglasses that filter both UVA and UVB light. "Look for labels that say 'UV absorption up to 400nm' or '100 percent UV blocking,'" Garg says.

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4. Follow the 20-20-20 rule

Looking at screens for long periods of time can put a heavy strain on your eyes. It won't cause permanent damage, but too much screen time can make your eyes feel achy or cause temporary blurred vision.

This is because you blink less often while looking at screens, which can cause your eyes to dry out and feel uncomfortable. It's also hard for your eyes to continuously look at the bright light of a screen and focus on small objects like text.

Experts recommend using a method called the 20-20-20 rule whenever you use a close-up screen like a phone or laptop to help manage eye strain. To use the method, follow these steps:

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  1. Every 20 minutes, take a quick break and look away from your screen.
  2. During this break, find an object at least 20 feet away from you to look at.
  3. Focus on the object for at least 20 seconds before returning to your screen.

Blue light-filtering glasses are often advertised as a fix for the eye strain caused by screens. But research shows that these glasses don't actually reduce eye strain because they don't increase your rate of blinking. Make sure you practice the 20-20-20 rule to best reduce eye strain.

5. Wear protective eyewear like safety glasses

Many different jobs can put you at risk for eye injuries, but wearing protective equipment can help keep your eyes and vision safe. Experts estimate that wearing proper eye protection can prevent 90% of eye injuries at work.

You should wear protective goggles, face shields, or other equipment if you work with any of these substances:

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  • Chemicals
  • Airborne particles of wood, metal, or other materials
  • Radiation, including UV radiation or lasers
  • Blood or bodily fluids

Refer to your workplace regulations for the proper equipment you should use to guard your eyes. If you use any of these materials outside of your job for cleaning or building, use the same caution and make sure you have your own protective gear.

6. Regulate blood sugar levels and manage diabetes

Diabetes can pose a serious risk to your eyesight because it weakens blood vessels throughout your body, including those in your retina, Garg says.

"Over time, those blood vessels become so damaged that they no longer carry enough oxygen and nutrients to nourish the retina, and some of those retinal cells become damaged and die," Garg says.

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Keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control can help reduce your risk of developing a diabetes-related eye disease, Garg says. This may involve changing your diet, exercising, or taking any other steps your doctor recommends.

If you have diabetes, you should see an ophthalmologist for an eye exam every year, so you can catch any eye health issues as early as possible, Garg advises.

Insider's takeaway

To keep your eyesight at its best, it's important to go for regular checkups with your eye doctor and to make lifestyle shifts that keep your eyes in good health. Eating the right diet, quitting smoking, taking screen breaks, and protecting your eyes from harm are important steps you can take to improve your eyesight.

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