How does your body feel when you’re stressed? Life is full of stress; the moment you get a grasp on one cause, another one creeps up. Unfortunately, your body takes a lot of punches when you’re feeling stress, especially the eyes.
Stress causes the body to go into fight or flight mode. When stress levels rise, adrenaline starts pumping, blood pressure increases, and muscles become tense. The eyes are incredibly sensitive to the effects of stress because they rely on optimal blood flow and muscle health to function. There are other things that cause the eyes to feel stressed, like:
Dryness in the eyes; dry eye syndrome
Eye strain (often from staring at computer and cell phone screens)
Various optical diseases
Although we can’t control our genetic disposition to be allergic to pollen in the air or to be at a higher risk for certain eye diseases, we can control our diets. Ensuring you get enough vitamins that reduce eye stress is crucial to preventing vision problems and prolonging the onset on certain diseases. It’s important to focus on a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients for your overall health, however the following vitamins are highly beneficial for de-stressing your eyes.
1. Vitamin A
This vitamin does a myriad of things for your eyes. Vitamin A aids in the formation of rhodopsin which ensures the healthy function of the retina. It also reduces your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration by minimized the excess free radicals in your eyes. In terms of eye stress, it continues to be a champion of eye nutrients.
Vitamin A can help treat and prevent dry eye syndrome. When the eyes are dry, they can become irritated, red, and inflamed. Anyone who’s ever experienced having dry eyes knows how uncomfortable it can be! Through its job of ensuring the membranes of the cornea stay moist, your eyes are less likely to become dry. It can also increase the moisture in already-dry eyes.
The vitamin is also great for reducing inflammation that is caused by superior limbic conjunctivitis. When you have this type of inflammation, your superior cornea and the connecting tissues can become swollen and irritated. Vitamin A reduces inflammation which in turn reduces stress and pressure on the eyes.
2. Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These two nutrients are part of the antioxidant family and are always associated with vitamins for eye health. Antioxidants in general are important for protecting the eye’s cells from free radicals and developing diseases like macular generation. Disease can put a lot of stress on your eyes, not to mention your overall physical and emotional stress. Prevention is the first step to saving your eyes from that stress.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are both anti-inflammatory agents that can reduce irritability during allergy season or from infections. In addition to protecting against inflammation, they also live up to their nickname “the eye vitamins”. Of the 600 different carotenoids found in nature, lutein and zeaxanthin are the only ones found in the macula. Ensuring you have enough of these two soldiers in your diet protects your eyes from macular degeneration, cataract development, and even light sensitivity. They’re responsible for playing a part in protecting the lens, eye tissue, as well as the macula from oxidation and other damage.
Perhaps the most common cause of eye stress is eye strain. We are all guilty of staring at the computer screen too long or holding our cell phones too close to our face to read messages. However, the effects of too much screen-time takes a serious toll on our eyes. Not only can it cause eye strain and pain, you can suffer eye fatigue and poor night vision. Spending too much time focusing on a screen that’s a foot or two from your eyes causes your eyes to become stressed and uncomfortable.
Bilberry has antioxidant properties that can help prevent damage to the eyes from free radicals and oxidation. It has also been shown to reduce the permeability of the capillaries in our eyes which improves blood circulation in the eyes. Through its support in producing rhodopsin, your eyes are able to see clearer in dim lighting and maintain sharpness. Traditionally, bilberry has been used to relieve eye strain and the symptoms that come with it making it an excellent stress reliever for the eyes.
Other Ways to Decrease Eye Stress
In addition to eating a healthy, balanced, eye-nutrient-rich diet, there are a couple other ways to decrease the stress levels in your eyes. Take breaks when you’re working on a computer to allow your eyes to stop constricting and relax. Avoid smoking cigarettes because they can cause and increase symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Practice eye exercises that improve muscle strength, flexibility, and control.
This post originally appeared on Rebuild Your Vision.