Experts at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai share top 7 tips to maintain eye health during Ramadan
As the blessed month of Ramadan arrives during the hot and long days of summer this year, it is important to get proper nourishment between iftar and suhoor 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 and the eye consultants at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai have compiled a list of their top 7 tips for healthy eyes during Ramadan.
People who are fasting during Ramadan should try to maintain hydration before/after the fast by drinking 2.5 liters 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 6 hours of sleep, or it could lead to dry and tired eyes.
Nutrition – 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. These nutrients are good for the eyes and might help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and delaycataracts, studies show.
During the month of Ramadan, at Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and Iftar (dinner), try to balance your diet and regularly eat these foods 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 the harmful effects of smoking on eyesight, particularly in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a leading cause of sight loss – 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.
People with diabetes
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most serious complications of diabetes and can lead to blindness. People who have their diabetes under control, either by their diet or using tablets, may fast during Ramadan. However, the doctor may require them to change their medication to help them take tablets outside fasting times. 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 exercising
Exercising is important for overall health and helps in reducing risks for 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 the 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 generally, including the eyes, are diet, and a vitamin-rich diet including 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 a regular eye examination with a qualified ophthalmologist to maintain good eye health – not just the quality of the vision but to check 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.