From eye drops to supplements, there are many items out there that make promises to improve your eye health. Considering that the World Health Organization states that 2.2 billion people worldwide have near or distance vision issues, it’s no surprise that the eye care industry is booming with solutions for people desperate to improve their eye health. It can be hard to determine which products to buy and which to pass on.
We narrowed down the items you should invest in to protect your eye health. These are the top picks backed by evidence and eye health experts.
With so many eye drops on the market for different purposes, it may be hard to choose the right one for your needs. There are various artificial tears on the market that have preservatives, are preservative free, lipid-based and more. It’s important to understand that over-the-counter eye drops are intended for temporary relief if you have allergies or are experiencing some redness or dryness, for example. More serious conditions that require medical attention should be observed and addressed by your doctor since some eye drops are not recommended for long term use. However, if you’re in the clear and are looking for eye drops that work and want to have on hand, these are some expert-approved picks.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Recommending supplements for eye care can be tricky because not all have enough evidence to prove they work. However, lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to help reduce the progression of macular degeneration. A study done between 2006 and 2012 found that people with moderate macular degeneration in both eyes or in one eye and advanced disease in the other reduced the risk of it getting worse by about 25% by taking lutein and zeaxanthin.
Besides taking them in supplement form, you can also increase your lutein and zeaxanthin intake by eating foods like dark leafy greens, egg yolks, salmon, and yellow and orange produce like corn, carrots and peppers, to name a few. Other nutrients you should prioritize in your diet for eye health include vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.
Up-to-date prescription glasses and contact lenses
It’s important to stay up to date with your eye exams to make sure your prescription hasn’t changed since your last visit. Wearing the wrong prescription — whether they’re contact lenses or glasses — can cause an array of issues that can be avoided. Side effects of wearing the wrong prescription include headaches, eye strain from squinting, blurry vision, night blindness and more issues. In this case, it’s worth spending the money on a new pair of glasses and/or contacts so you don’t cause further damage to your eyes and to reduce the aforementioned symptoms. If you’re regularly experiencing visual problems, make sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out any other eye conditions.
Sunglasses with UV protection
Besides protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays with sunscreen, you should also be shielding your eyes. Prolonged exposure to the sun while you’re outdoors can harm your eyes in the long run, even when it’s overcast. Dr. Mackenzie Sward, a board-certified ophthalmologist, told CNET previously that harmful UVA and UVB rays in the atmosphere can increase the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, skin cancer of the eyelid and other diseases of the eye. Therefore, wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection is important if you enjoy spending time doing outdoor activities. If you’d like to experiment with prescription eyeglasses that offer proper protection, you can explore some of our favorite picks.