“The eyes are the window to your soul,” wrote, William Shakespeare. And he may have been right. Our eyes reflect when we’re feeling happy, sad, angry, scared, flirtatious, fatigued, or ill, and yet they reveal so much more than just our emotions?
From a simple eye exam a physician or optometrist can tell if a person has diabetes, high blood pressure, ptosis (droopy eyelids), HIV/AIDS, and aneurysms, as well as a number of other medical conditions. They can spot whether the person is a smoker by unhealthy changes in the shape of the eye. And they can predict those at risk for developing eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Even our eye color reveals things about us. For example, blue eyes tend to be very light sensitive leaving the person prone to watery eyes and a need for sunglasses. People with hazel, green, or gray eyes are at increased risk for cancer since lighter eyes have less pigment to protect them from harmful UV rays. Those with brown eye are generally more sensitive to alcohol, and can get drunk significantly faster than their lighter-eyed counterparts.
With our eyes telling more of our personal story than we think, it’s a good idea to be more mindful of our optic health.
Protecting our eyes from debris, chemicals, injury, and sun is important. Remember to wear athletic masks when playing sports. Don the goggles when swimming, working with machinery or near chemicals, and don’t forgo them just because they’re not always the most fashionable. Do remember to wear sun glasses when the sun is at its most intense. This will help preserve the health of your eyes.
Rest the eyes. They’re working hard glaring into the LCD lights of our TVs, computers, tablets, and cell phones all day, and this can be harmful to our eye health. Ophthalmologists recommend what’s called the 20–20–20 Rule; every 20 minutes look 20 feet away from your screen for about 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a break and a chance to recover from fatigue.
Eat right to protect your sight and maintaining a healthy weight. We all know carrots provide us with beta carotene which is good for our eyes, but dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are every bit, if not more so, important. Fish such as salmon, tuna, and halibut are also beneficial since they’re high in omega-3 fatty acids. An overall healthy diet and weight makes for happy eyes.
It’s important to practice good hygiene. We touch our eyes more times in a day than we realize, so remember to wash your hands regularly to avoid infections. This is particularly important for contact wearers who take their contacts in and out each day.
Lastly, know your family’s health history. Our eyes are only as healthy as the rest of our body, and hereditary disease and illness can take its toll on our eyes. For example, diabetes can cause optic nerve damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration, so be sure to share your history with both your medical doctor and your eye doctor.
When it comes to our health, let’s not overlook the obvious because seeing truly is believing.