Posted on Jun 23, 2022, 2 p.m.
Curling up in a cozy corner with a book is a pastime that we have enjoyed for hundreds of years. Each chapter finished feels like an accomplishment, and the soft white pages melt away in a colorful kaleidoscope of imagination, adventure, emotions, and new ideas.
But with impaired vision at an all-time high, taking care of your vision is something that everyone should be attentive to, especially while enjoying your favorite hobby. Here are some tips for preserving your vision while reading.
Read in a Well-Lit Room
As much as we’d like, we can’t see in the dark very well. Our eyes constantly readjust in the dark, and if you're reading in a room with poor lighting, your eyes are going to strain very quickly. Refocusing between the black letters and the white pages, keeping your eyes open for longer inducing dryness, and squinting to make out the words all put undue pressure on your eyes. Get a reading lamp, or read in a room with enough light that reading isn’t a chore.
That next chapter may sound tempting, but as with all things in life, moderation is the best approach. There is a rule when doing anything with your eyes called 20-20-20. Every 20 minutes, shift your gaze to something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Blink as much as you can to keep those peepers well lubricated, remember that well-maintained tools tend to last a lot longer.
You are what you eat, and this goes for your eyes as well. A diet of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, zinc, and lutein can help stave off common age-born diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. You can get these from foods like salmon, tuna, kale, spinach, arugula, strawberries, eggs, nuts, beans, pork, oysters, and citrus fruits. Not only will a good diet help your overall health, but keep your eyes in tip-top condition.
As if you needed any more reason to quit smoking, this nasty habit can affect your long-term ocular health. Smoking encourages the onset of both cataracts and macular degeneration. It can also damage your optic nerve. Don’t give up if you’ve tried to quit before. Every attempt gets you one step closer to quitting forever, and let you enjoy a healthy habit like reading for many years to come.
Be Aware of Screen Time Before Bed
It's the first thing you do in the morning, and the last thing you do before you go to bed, but studies show that leaving 30 minutes between using your devices and going to bed is better for your sleep, and better for your eyes. Screens dry out your eyes and can impact your sleep cycle. It’s tough, but put the phone away before bed!
Use Safety Eyewear
No, we’re not saying you need the goggles while you’re reading, no matter how intense the material. What we are saying is if you play sports or work in an environment with airborne particles it’s a good idea to keep your eyes safe. Hockey, lacrosse, and even racquetball all can injure your eyes in an instant, so why risk it?
Visit Your Eye Doctor Regularly
You need a physical regularly to check your health, so why should your eyes be any different? They are maybe the sense we use the most, and very important if you want to keep reading! Schedule regular exams with your optometrist and ophthalmologist. They can detect the early onset of ocular diseases like glaucoma, which is a lot easier to treat if you spot them early on.
Reading may feel like an older media, but that is part of its charm. Where movies, video games, and even music all now rely on devices with screens, it is still possible, and even encouraged, to read on good old-fashioned paper, and you need your eyes to do that. Be mindful of their health, and keep them in good shape so that your mind can continue to explore foreign worlds, new perspectives, and stories more thought-provoking than you could ever imagine. Happy reading!
This article was written for WHN by Isabelle Marinier. Isabelle is an associate editor at EyeBuyDirect, an online retailer of affordable and high-quality eyewear. She is a lifelong learner who is always eager to try new things. Isabelle combines her skills and experience to transform lifestyle, fashion, and travel ideals into practical reality and relevant information.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine.
Content may be edited for style and length.
Materials provided by:
Bedtime screen use in middle-aged and older adults growing during pandemic | Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (aasm.org)