As Ramadan falls during the hot and long days of summer this year, it is important to get proper nourishment between iftar and suhour in order to promote good overall health of the body including the eyes.
Good lifestyle choices including exercise, nutrition, hydration, sun protection, sleep and regular checkups (especially for older and younger members of the family) are at the heart of good eye health. Consultants at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai have compiled a list of their top seven tips for healthy eyes during Ramadan.
People who are fasting during Ramadan should try to maintain hydration before and after the fast by drinking 2.5 litres of water as dehydration can lead to, or exacerbate, dryness of the eyes.
Lack of sleep during Ramadan can lead to eye-related issues for those who are observing the fast; we would recommend a minimum of six hours of sleep, or it could lead to dry and tired eyes.
Fast and eat well for good vision
Protecting your eyes starts with a balanced diet with extra emphasis on nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc and vitamins C and E. Studies show that these nutrients are good for the eyes and might help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and delay cataracts.
At suhour and iftar, try to balance your diet and eat the following foods regularly to help maintain good eye health.
• Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards
• Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish
• Eggs, nuts, beans and other non-meat protein sources
• Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices
Smoking causes harm to the tissues of the eye. Research has confirmed its harmful effects on eyesight, particularly in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a leading cause of sight loss – and cataracts.
Smokers double their risk of developing AMD and tend to develop it earlier than non-smokers. Treatment options for AMD are limited but stopping smoking can reduce the risk of macular degeneration developing.
Smoking is also linked to the development of cataracts, and although they are treatable and therefore do not lead to blindness, they remain a major cause of sight loss worldwide.
If you’ve tried to quit smoking before and started smoking again, keep trying. The more times you try to quit smoking, the more likely you are to succeed.
Ramadan presents the perfect opportunity to detoxify the body.
Keep an eye on sugar levels
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most serious complications of diabetes and can lead to blindness. People who have their diabetes under control, either through diet or tablets, may fast during Ramadan. However, the doctor may require them to change their medication to help them take tablets outside fasting hours. Those who need insulin to control their diabetes should not fast. People with diabetes should measure their blood sugar levels throughout the day and avoid excessively sugary food.
Don’t skip exercise
Exercise is important for overall health and helps in reducing risks of several common eye ailments such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. Cardiovascular exercises such as aerobics will lower intraocular pressure, which is pressure in your eyes – a main factor in glaucoma. Vision problems and eye disease also stem from high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Exercise also increases the flow of blood to the optic nerve and retina. A healthy diet and regular exercise are two of the most important steps you can take to lower both.
Look after your eyes
Other lifestyle habits influencing the health of the body including the eyes are diet, and a vitamin-rich diet containing fruit and vegetables is a positive lifestyle choice. For people with diabetes, more regular eye screening is essential because of the greater risk of potentially serious eye complications. Any unusual symptoms such as cloudy vision, blurred images, floating spots and loss of vision should be discussed with an ophthalmologist.
Everyone should have regular eye examinations with a qualified ophthalmologist to maintain good eye health. The examination is not just to check the quality of vision but the overall health of the eye. The eye can also reveal health issues in other parts of the body. Most adults should have a sight test every two years and an ophthalmic practitioner will advise if eyes need testing more frequently.
Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, located at Dubai Healthcare City, is the first overseas branch of Moorfields London. It provides world-class outpatient diagnostics and treatment for the full range of both surgical and non-surgical eye conditions for both adults and children, from basic screenings and eye health checks, to retinal surgery, laser refractive surgery, cataracts, corneal grafts, diabetic retinopathy treatment, squint correction surgery, oculoplastic surgery, genetic eye disease consultations and counselling, and ocular oncology services through a team of permanent and visiting consultants.