Contributor: Saffron & Sage
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
Audrey Hepburn once said, “The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” The eyes are often referred to as the window to the soul and, along with giving others a way to see in, they also give each individual a way to see out at the boundless beauty in the world.
And yet, how often we take our eyes for granted, forgetting to think of them when it comes to self-care, even as our use of them becomes increasingly strenuous thanks to digital devices.
According to the 2016 Digital Eye Strain report from The Vision Council, nearly 60 percent of Americans use digital devices for five or more hours each day, and 65 percent experience digital eye strain symptoms such as dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, and headaches.
Beginning this spring, provide your eyes with the TLC they deserve with some of these eye care tips:
1. Limit screen time
If an increased use in screen time is a cause for eye strain, it makes sense that the number one change that should be made to care for your eyes is to limit the amount of time spent in front of a screen. Exchange some of those post-work hours perusing Pinterest for time outside or engaging in more experiential hobbies.
2. Have regular eye exams
People are encouraged to have annual physicals with their doctors and pay a visit to the dentist every six months, so why shouldn’t eye exams be a regular occurrence, too? The Glaucoma Research Foundation recommends individuals under 40 have their eyes tested every two-four years; those aged 40-54 should go every one-three years; individuals who are 55-64 should go every one-two years; and exams should take place every six-twelve months after that.
3. Eat the right foods
It’s well-known that the beta-carotene found in carrots is good for the eyes, but that’s not the only food that can help with eyesight. Consuming leafy greens and egg yolks is beneficial thanks to the presence of antioxidants (plus zinc in the yolks), which studies show lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts. The same can be said for the Vitamin C found in citrus fruits and berries, as well as the Vitamin E in almonds, according to the American Optometric Association. In addition, fatty fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies and trout are rich in DHA, a fatty acid found in the retina; low levels have been linked to dry eye syndrome.
4. Turn to yoga
The benefits to yoga are plenty, and there are asanas – or poses – for just about every ailment and area of the body, including the eyes. As part of your eye care regime, take a few minutes each day to incorporate the yogic eye exercises Netra Vyayamum. These integral yoga exercises help strengthen the eye muscles and include moving the eyes in all directions, stretching as far to the periphery as is comfortable without strain. The exercises begin with vertical movements, repeatedly looking up and then down while keeping the head still. The movements then become horizontal, then switch to full circles, by looking up, then slowly moving the eyes clockwise in a full circle. Other movement options include diagonal, opposite diagonal and half-circles. These exercises can be done as part of a longer yoga routine or alone – they could even be performed while sitting at work. Another effective asana for the eyes is Surya Namaskar, or the sun salutation, with 12 sets recommended each day.
5. Incorporate Ayurveda
Ayurveda also has a number of remedies for eye strain such as placing one drop of lukewarm ghee (clarified butter) in each eye at bedtime to lubricate the eyelid and eyelashes and sooth and strengthen the eyes; placing three drops of pure rose water, which has cooling properties, in each eye; and performing an eyewash with the Ayurvedic herb Triphala, by boiling one teaspoon in a cup of water for three minutes, then allowing it to cool, straining it with a coffee filter or triple-folded cheesecloth, and using it to wash the eyes.
6. Focus on your beauty routine
Eyeliner, lash curlers, mascara, shadow… the eyes are subjected to all kinds of products. And so, it’s important to properly care for them by removing all residue at the end of each day – coconut oil makes a great makeup remover – and using an organic, soothing moisturizer on the delicate skin surrounding each eye.