Getting regular eye checkups is just one of many ways you can improve your eyesight and prevent injuries or illnesses that could harm your vision. Keep reading to learn other ways you can improve your vision.
1. Get enough key vitamins and minerals
Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the mineral zinc, contain antioxidants that can help prevent macular degeneration. It’s a condition in which the macula — the part of the eye that controls central vision — deteriorates.
Food sources for these important nutrients include a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, sweet potato and citrus. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseed, are also recommended for better eye health.
2. Don’t forget the carotenoids
A few other nutrients are also keys to improving eyesight. Among them are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids found in the retina. You can also find them in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, zucchini, and eggs. These carotenoids help protect the macula by improving pigment density in that part of the eye, and absorbing ultraviolent and blue light.
3. Stay fit
Yes, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help your eyes, not just your waistline. Type 2 diabetes, which is more common in people who are overweight or obese, can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eyes.
This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes the very small arteries in your retina — the light-sensitive back part of the eye — to leak blood and fluid into the eye, harming your vision.
4. Manage chronic conditions
Conditions, such as high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis, can affect your eyesight. These conditions are linked to chronic inflammation, which can harm your health from head to toe.
Inflammation of the optic nerve, for example, can cause pain and even complete vision loss. While a disease such as multiple sclerosis can’t be prevented, you can try to manage it with healthy habits and medications.
High blood pressure can be effectively treated with a heart-healthy diet, exercise and antihypertensive medications.
5. Wear protective eyewear
Whether you’re playing racquetball, working in your garage, or doing a science experiment in school, it’s vital that you protect your eyes with appropriate eyewear. Tough, protective eyewear is essential if there is a risk of chemicals, sharp objects, or materials such as wood shavings, metal shards, or even a stray elbow during a basketball game, entering your eye.
Many protective goggles are made with a type of polycarbonate, which is about 10 times tougher than other forms of plastic. Shop for protective goggles.
6. That includes sunglasses
Sunglasses aren’t just for looking cool. Wearing shades is one of the most important steps you can take when it comes to improving your eyesight.
Sunglasses help protect your eyes from conditions that stem from eye damage. These include cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium — a growth of tissue over the white part of the eye. Pterygiums can lead to astigmatism, which can cause blurred vision.
Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also help protect your eyes from sun damage.
7. Follow the 20-20-20 rule
Your eyes work hard during the day and need a break now and then. The strain can be especially intense if you work at a computer for long stretches at a time. To ease the strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule. That means every 20 minutes, you should stop staring at your computer and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
8. Learn your family’s eye health history
Some eye conditions are hereditary, so being aware of eye conditions that your parents or grandparents had can help you take precautions. Understanding your family history can help you take early precautions.
Hereditary conditions include: glaucoma, retinal degeneration, age-related macular degeneration and optic atrophy.
The bottom line
You may not associate washing your hands, eating your vegetables, or watching your weight as key steps toward better eyesight, but they all play a role.
Living a healthier lifestyle and protecting your eyes from the sun and foreign objects can’t protect against every eye condition. But they can all lower your odds of developing a problem that could hurt your vision.
This post originally appeared on Healthline.