Do you want to have clear and comfortable vision for many years? Whether you are a student, a computer user, middle-aged, or a senior, the following information will help you maintain the good eyesight that you presently enjoy.

Healthy Body, Healthy Eyes

The most basic and easiest advice is what each of my patients receive: “Take care of your body, and your eyes will follow.” This most fundamental ideal is very profound. Our eyes are connected to the brain and possess an abundance of blood vessels. In fact, the retina (back of the eye) is the only place in our bodies that we are able to observe arteries and veins at the same time without having to cut into tissue. It is for this reason that your eye doctor can see the effects of diabetes, hypertension, systemic lupus erythematous, AIDs, and so on. Therefore I recommend annual routine eye examinations. Remember, you are not going to your eye doctor just for a new eyeglass or contact lens prescription—you are being examined to make sure your eyes (and body) are healthy!

What is good for your body is also good for your eyes. Make sure to get plenty of rest and aerobic exercise, and eat healthy. A healthy diet consists of minimally processed carbohydrates and lots of fresh produce. Two of the best foods for your eyes are spinach and fish from cold, deep waters: salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and so on contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your body and eyes. Spinach is very high in lutein and has been shown to help those who have macular degeneration.

Of course, don’t smoke! Smoking has been shown to be a risk factor in cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

* Rule 1: Take care of your body, and your eyes will follow.

* Rule 2: Make sure to schedule annual, routine eye examinations.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes is one of the most common conditions treated by eye doctors, affecting more than 10 million Americans. The most common symptoms of dry eyes are burning, watery eyes, or the sensation of having grit or sand in the eye. Whereas perimenopausal women are affected the most by dry eyes, anyone at any age may experience dry eyes. Systemic illnesses, such as Sjogren’s disease, may also cause/exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Various occupations or work environments that are dry, dusty, or smoke filled can also cause/exacerbate dry eye symptoms.

Anyone with symptoms of dry eyes would benefit from slow, conscious blinking. A good blink (and often) is very soothing and can really help those who are suffering from mild dry eyes. As often as you can remember, close your eyes gently and slowly. Keep your eyes closed for two to three seconds. Try this. It is very soothing. This is very helpful to computer users who tend to stare at their monitors and blink at a rate that is much less than we normally do.

Many individuals have clogged oil glands that line the eyelids. These glands are very important for keeping our ocular surfaces wet. Simple cleansing of the eyelids often can bring dramatic relief. Wrap a wash cloth around your index finger, put the wash cloth under hot water, and then rub your finger with the hot wash cloth over it along your eyelids. The glands are along the rim of your eyelids, just behind your eyelashes. This needs to be done twice a day on both your upper and lower eyelids of each eye. Relief is usually felt within two weeks, although some people need to continue with the lid scrubs once a day, especially during the cold winter months. If your eyelid glands are severely clogged, your eye doctor may need to prescribe an oral antibiotic to relieve your symptoms.

A healthy way to improve dry eyes is to increase or supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids. These can be found in deep, cold water fish such as mackerel, sardines, and herring, or in flax seeds or flaxseed oil.

Over-the-counter eye lubricants will help but should not be overused. I only recommend preservative-free lubricants. There are over twenty different brands on the market; ask your eye doctor or pharmacist for a brand they prefer. I also recommend not using eye drops that minimize redness in the eyes—the chemical that reduces redness does not help relieve dryness.

If you are a computer user, lowering the height of your desktop monitor will reduce symptoms of dry eyes. The top of the screen should be at eye level or below.

Moderate or more severe dry eyes can be helped by your eye doctor. Your eye doctor can prescribe the prescription Restasis. Restasis has been clinically shown to increase tear production. While this is great, the drug does not work immediately, requiring you to use drops twice a day, with relief not usually being felt until after two months or more.

Another option that your doctor can use is punctal plugs. These plugs help keep your tears on the surface of your eyes by plugging the drains that your tears normally drain through.

Oral antibiotics, Restasis, and punctal plugs can all be employed by your eye doctor. Consciously slow blinking, increasing your fatty acid intake, and cleaning your eyelids can all be done by you!

* Rule 3: Dry eyes is a common condition. Simple lifestyle adjustments can bring relief.

Visual Hygiene

Visual hygiene is a fancy term used by the eye care community to describe good habits that allow our eyes to feel comfortable and work efficiently and stress-free. Bad visual hygiene (bad eye habits) cause our eyes to feel tired, dry, and tense and can lead to nearsightedness.

Good visual hygiene consists of
1. good lighting
2. taking frequent rest breaks when doing near activities
3. breathing when doing near activities
4. placing reading material on a work surface that is angled twenty degrees
5. using counterstress or stress-relieving eyeglasses when doing near activities.

The good visual hygiene habits are mostly common sense. Good lighting means that the lighting is proper for the activity being performed; the light should not be directed into your eyes, and reading should not be done in dim lighting. The sun’s light is better than artificial light.

Whenever you read, do deskwork, computer work, sew, or any other nearpoint activity, the muscles in your eyes are working. There is no muscle in the body that wants to work for a half hour straight. Neither do your eyes. Take frequent rest breaks. Every fifteen minutes of close work, take a two-minute break. Look far away into the distance. When you look up close, the muscles in your eyes are working; when you look far away, the muscles in your eyes are relaxed.

Nearpoint work is very stressful to our visual systems. Stress causes shallow breathing, among other things. Remember this, and breathe slowly and deeply while doing computer work, reading, or other nearpoint, concentrated tasks.

It has been shown that when we read, we are more comfortable and efficient if our eyes are perpendicular to the plane of our reading material. Therefore, if our reading material (homework) is on a table, that table should be tilted upward about twenty degrees so that when we bend our heads downward at our reading material, it is perpendicular to our line of sight.

Counterstress or stress-relieving eyeglasses would be prescribed by your eye doctor. After probing your eyes through nearpoint testing, your eye doctor may find a prescription that makes reading and nearpoint work easier and less stressful to your visual system. These same eyeglasses can help to stop or slow down the progression of nearsightedness for you. These eyeglasses have made a tremendous difference to many of my patients as well as myself. I am proud to say that I am one of the few eye doctors that does not require eyeglasses or contact lenses to see clearly in the distance.

* Rule 4: Humans were not meant to read. Good visual hygiene, such as proper lighting, frequent rest breaks, and breathing, can help you do nearpoint activities comfortably.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kevin D. Geiger received his OD degree from the SUNY State College of Optometry. He is a practicing optometrist in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He is the past recipient of the Frederick Brock Memorial Award for his clinical expertise in working with patients requiring vision therapy and other visual interventions for a multitude of ocular conditions relating to binocular and perceptual deficiencies. Dr. Geiger’s book Rx for Computer Eyes discusses the stresses computers have on our eyes and body and contains easy-to-follow suggestions that computer users of all ages can implement to reduce these stresses. Dr. Geiger has also been featured on NBC’s television show Inside Stuff for his expert knowledge on the eyes’ role in basketball and athletics in general. To learn more about Dr. Geiger, visit