You’ve heard the phrase “pearly whites” when referring to teeth. But there’s no reason we couldn’t be talking about the whites of your eyes. Your sclera is the whitest part of the eye, which surrounds your colored part of your eye.
As you age, you may find that the sclera loses some of its whiteness. You’ll see some changes coming to the normally bright portion of your eyes. While you may be tempted to fix this with medicine or surgery, there are actually several options to naturally keep your sclera looking as white as it is today.
What is the Function of the Sclera?
The sclera is the part of the eye that forms the connective tissue for the globe, which is more commonly known as the eyeball. You’ll find four layers inside the sclera: the episclera, the stroma, the lamina fusca, and the endothelium. The white opacity of the sclera comes from collagen fibers and their irregularity, unlike those you would find in the cornea.
What Happens to the Sclera as Aging Continues?
While the human body continues to age, the sclera will remain consistently white until about the mid-life period. Once this period begins, the sclera will see some major changes. You’ll notice this yourself when you find that you can’t perceive colors the same way, or your field of vision isn’t quite what it used to be.
There might also be some physical changes perceptible in your eyes as well once your sclera begins to age with the rest of your body. You might find that your eyes are beginning to sink into your face a little more, or that your lower eyelids begin to droop without any prior indication. Mostly, you’ll find that the sclera itself begins to change to a yellow shade rather than the bright white you’ve seen in the mirror.
How Can I Keep My Sclera Bright and White?
As you’ve probably read elsewhere, a healthy sclera is usually indicated by consistent white shades. We know that the aging process shows up in the sclera through the fading of the white. It will take on a yellow or brown tint as you continue to get older.
Before we get into maintaining your sclera, know that minimal exposure to ultraviolet rays is a huge advantage to your eyes. The same can be said for dust and wind, although this might be difficult depending on the local climate where you live. If you consistently wear a hat or sunglasses, these can go a long way in protecting your sclera and keeping your eyes as white as possible.
Foods to Eat
For keeping your eyes healthy, and your sclera specifically, there are a number of vitamins for you to add to your diet. We’ve put together a list of foods to keep on hand, helping you focus on the health of your sclera and your eyes in general.
This is easy to find. You can stock up on tons of fruit that is rich in Vitamin C, readily available in your local produce section. Focus on strawberries, grapefruits, and of course, oranges. The more you inundate your system with Vitamin C, the happier your eyes will be. Don’t forget about the juice options either but try to stay away from overdoing it with sugar.
Not only is Vitamin A found in many different fruits, but it’s a great excuse to power through those vegetables you never used to enjoy as a kid. Trust us, you should try them again as an adult, and find out how you can acquire a taste for something new while keeping your eyes healthy. Look for beta-carotene in papaya, mangoes, peaches, and carrots. Next time you visit the grocery store, splurge on produce.
Fruits and vegetables that are ripe in antioxidants will keep your sclera white throughout your life. You’re going to want to search for zeaxanthin and lutein, which will prevent your risk of macular degeneration. These antioxidants also help you from building up cataracts. Find yourself some of the leafy greens from your produce section, including spinach, kale, and chard. Blueberries are also super-rich in antioxidants, so don’t forget to top off your oatmeal.
Do you like munching on crunchy snack foods? You should think about skipping the chips and go with natural nuts. Vitamin E is found in droves when you open the container of almonds. One simple handful gives you half the recommended daily dose of Vitamin E. You can also drop this on a salad as part of a bigger meal. You can also stock up on jars of wheat germ, peanut butter, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds.
Here’s a strange but convenient fact to remember about your eye health – the color you want to prevent your eye from turning is the color to look for in a fruit and vegetable. If you want to keep your sclera as white as possible, you should make zinc a regular mineral of your diet. You’ll find plenty of zinc in different types of raw foods. You could pick from avocado, pine nuts, tahini, and cashews.
Exercises to Perform
Like any other part of your body, the eye benefits from regular exercise. While blinking involuntarily doesn’t necessarily count, there are other activities you can perform to maintain the health of your sclera. The exercises we have highlighted below will help your eyes from degenerating any further while tightening up the skin in and around your eyes.
First, you should sit comfortably in your favorite chair. Make sure to close your eyes as tightly as possible and count to 5. Slowly open your eyes and begin the same count until you reach 5. You can repeat this process several times until you feel the muscles of your eyelids getting stimulated.
Another technique you can do is focusing your squinting on one eyelid. Take your lower eyelid and squint as strongly as you can. Once you release it, repeat. You can do this from 5 to 7 times, as many as you feel comfortable with. Like the other exercises on this list, squinting with part of your eye helps to stave off the aging process associated with your sclera.
Here’s another idea: get two hand towels, and soak one in hot water while the other gets soaked in cold water. You can alternate a long soak for each eyelid between hot and cold, pausing with each tower to lightly massage it on each of your eyelids. You can also apply this towel technique to the surrounding areas on your eye, including your eyebrows and the sockets.
Are your eyes feeling tired, or in need of a cleaning? Keeping your sclera white is just one added benefit of these home remedies which you can put together with ingredients found in your house. Not only will your sclera benefit from homemade eyewash, but your eyes will simply feel better after a soak with some of the formulas we have here.
Yes, you can simply brew some green tea, and combine it with a half cup of distilled or boiled water. There’s a reason that the benefits of tea have been championed for thousands of years. And you can still feel them today. Mix the tea and water together, and you have yourself a solution. You can use this just like you would use other eye washes.
If you don’t feel like buying this from a store shelf, you can craft your own version of this everyday dry eye remedy to help your sclera. All you need is a cup of distilled water, which you can use to dissolve a teaspoon of salt. You’ll have no trouble using this several times throughout the day.
Conclusion: What Else Can I Do to Whiten My Sclera?
You don’t necessarily have to adopt a whole new diet or flood your system with home remedies to whiten your sclera and stave off the demons of aging. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple adjustment to your already existing patterns.
For starters, try to get some more sleep every night. While 7 to 8 hours of sleep is a tall order if you’re very busy, you should aim for as much as possible, especially during the weekend. Your eyes will thank you when you’re trying to focus on a monitor or documents throughout the work week.
Your eyes and the sclera need to stay as hydrated as possible, and hydration comes with water. The recommended amount of water to consume in one day is 64 ounces. You might need to take a few extra breaks throughout the day. But it’s worth it when you are maintaining the health of your eyes. You’ll notice a decrease in puffy eyes, and you won’t see as much red when you look in the mirror.
One last thing: never go outside without sunglasses. Even if it doesn’t seem that bright, you can never have too much protection for your sclera against ultraviolet rays.