TIPS FOR GOOD EYE HEALTH
Don’t take your eye health for granted. Protect your eyesight with these tips:
Protecting your eyes starts with the food on your plate. Studies have shown that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E may help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Regularly eating these foods can help lead to 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
You’ve probably heard that carrots and other orange-colored fruits and vegetables promote eye health and protect vision, and it’s true: Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives these foods their orange hue, helps the retina and other parts of the eye to function smoothly.
They’re packed with lutein and zeaxanthin—antioxidants that, studies show, lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts
The yolk is a prime source of lutein and zeaxanthin—plus zinc, which also helps reduce your macular degeneration risk
CITRUS AND BERRIES
These fruits are powerhouses of vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
They’re filled with vitamin E, which slows macular degeneration, research shows. One handful (an ounce) provides about half of your daily dose of E
Tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies and trout are rich in DHA, a fatty acid found in your retina—low levels of which have been linked to macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome.
In various studies and clinical trials antioxidant vitamins found in certain foods have been linked with eye health. They help to maintain healthy cells and tissues in the eye. The main focus has been on the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E. These vitamins can be found in many different sources of fruit and vegetables such as:
- Dried apricots
- Raw carrots
- Green leafy vegetables including kale and spinach
- Green peas
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts.
They can also be found in nuts, seeds, dairy products and eggs. These are only a few of the food types in which antioxidant vitamins can be found.
More recently it has been suggested that two types of antioxidants, known as ‘carotenoids’, called Lutein (pronounced Loo-teen) and Zeaxanthin (pronounced Zay-a-za-thin) may also help with eye health. Some studies have found that people who have a good diet rich in carotenoids, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, have a lower risk of developing AMD. Lutein and Zeaxanthin can be found naturally in vegetables and fruit. For example, Lutein can be found in yellow peppers, mango, bilberries, and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, chard and broccoli. Zeaxanthin can be found in orange sweet peppers, broccoli, corn, lettuce (not iceberg), spinach, tangerines, oranges and eggs. Many of these overlap with food types in which vitamins A, E and C are present.
A large research trial, called the ‘Age-Related Eye Disease Study’ (AREDS), showed that high quantities of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene and the minerals zinc as zinc oxide, and copper as cupric oxide, can help to slow down the progression of AMD. It would be very hard to obtain the large quantity of vitamins used in the trial from your diet. Therefore some people who have AMD may consider supplementation with vitamins and anti-oxidants. Such high dosages of vitamins and minerals might have possible side effects on the body. For this reason it is very important to consult your doctor first before taking a supplement.
Also remember eating a well-balanced diet also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which makes you less likely to get obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults.
Smoking makes you more likely to get cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration. If you’ve tried to quit smoking before and started smoking again, keep trying. Studies show that the more times you try to quit smoking, the more likely you are to succeed.
The right kind of sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Too much UV exposure makes you more likely to get cataracts and macular degeneration. Choose sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wrap around lenses help protect your eyes from the side. Polarized lenses reduce glare when driving. If you wear contact lenses, some offer UV protection. It’s still a good idea to wear sunglasses for more protection.
If you work with hazardous or airborne materials at work or home, wear safety glasses or protective goggles every time. Certain sports such as ice hockey, racquetball, and lacrosse can also lead to eye injury. Wear eye protection (such as helmets with protective face masks or sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses) to shield your eyes.
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty focusing at a distance
- Dry eyes
- Neck, back, and shoulder pain
- Make sure your glasses or contact lens prescription is up-to-date and adequate for computer use.
- Some people may need glasses to help with contrast, glare, and eye strain when using a computer.
- Position your computer so that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor. This allows you to look slightly down at the screen.
- Try to avoid glare on your computer from windows and lights. Use an anti-glare screen if needed.
- Choose a comfortable, supportive chair. Position it so that your feet are flat on the floor.
- If your eyes are dry, blink more.
- Every 20 minutes, rest your eyes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds. At least every two hours, get up and take a 15-minute break.
Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam. You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of the eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if you’re seeing your best.
Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.
Following the AREDS research trial there have been over 150 smaller scale studies looking at how vitamins and minerals, both from food and in a vitamin supplement, can help eye health in general, and in particular AMD and cataracts. A number of these studies have looked specifically at the carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin which have been particularly associated with healthy eyes.Some of these studies have shown how certain vitamin and mineral supplements can have a positive effect on eyes and sight. As a result of these studies there are now a number of different supplements for eye health on the market. There is still divided medical opinion on the use of supplements for both eye health and for preventing, or slowing down, the progression of AMD and cataracts in particular. However, research has shown that often people do not get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet and therefore need supplements. However, experts agree that taking supplements is not a substitute for a healthy diet.
EYES A WINDOW TO YOUR HEALTH
You take in the world with your eyes — from paint colors to the perfect autumn sky — but did you know your eyes also allow for a unique look inside your body?
It’s true. Your eye doc can learn a lot about your health by looking at the blood vessels and nerves in the backs of your eyes. They can provide clues about what’s going on in the rest of your body. Here are just a few examples:
If the blood vessels in your eyes look stiff, form kinks or loops, or look bronze or gray instead of the usual red color, it could be a sign of high blood pressure or diabetes. These two conditions can harm your retinas, causing fluid buildup and bleeding that changes the look of the blood vessels there.
Blocked blood vessels or inflammation of certain structures in the eyes can sometimes be signs of autoimmune disease. These problems may cause symptoms like vision problems, pain, sensitivity to light, and red, itchy eyes. But keep in mind that symptoms like these are relatively common and most often are not associated with autoimmune disease. Still, see your doctor if your eyes are uncomfortable.
Doctors can’t use eye symptoms alone to diagnose an infection. But sometimes, signs of viral, bacterial, or fungal infection can show up in the eyes. For example, a growth inside the vitreous could be a sign of a fungal infection. And what if the whites of your eyes (the “sclera”) turn yellow? That could be a sign of a liver infection called hepatitis. Viral infections like herpes and AIDS also can cause eye symptoms.
Bottom line: If you notice unusual eye symptoms, whether it’s pain or redness or any other symptom out of the ordinary for you, speak to your eye doctor. Your eyes could be trying to tell you something, and with quick care, you might be able to treat an underlying health problem before it causes major issues.
YOUR EYES NEED EXERCISES TOO
12 exercises for healthy eyes We all know how important it is to keep our bodies fit by doing things like going to the gym, jogging, and swimming. But, did you know that you can exercise your eyes as well? Eye exercising will keep your eyes healthy and help minimize eyestrain.
Note that these steps are not meant to improve your vision, but rather to maintain your best eyesight level during the day and prevent significant further vision deterioration
Rub your hands together until they feel warm. Close your eyes and cover them lightly with your cupped palms. Avoid applying pressure to your eyeballs. Your nose should not be covered. Make sure no light rays can enter your eyes though gaps between your fingers or the edges of your palms and nose. You may still see other lingering traces of colors. Imagine deep blackness and focus on it. Take deep breaths slowly and evenly while thinking of some happy incident, or visualize a distant scene. After you see nothing but blackness, remove your palms from your eyes. Repeat the palming for 3 minutes or more.
Open them for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 7 or 8 times
Hot and Cold Compress: Soak one towel in hot water, and the other in cold. Take one and lightly press it to your face, focusing on your eyebrows, closed eyelids, and cheeks. Alternate between the two as desired, making sure to end with a cold compress.
Full Face Massage: Soak a towel in hot water. Rub your neck, forehead and cheeks with the towel, avoiding the eyes. Then, use your fingertips to gently massage your forehead and closed eyes.
Eyelid Massage: Close your eyes and massage them with circular movements of your fingers for 1-2 minutes. Make sure you press very lightly and have washed your hands to avoid damaging your eyes
Hold them there for 1-2 seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times.
Roll your eyes clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Repeat 5 times, blinking in between each time.
Then, slowly refocus your eyes on a nearby object (less than 30 feet or 10 m away) without moving your head. Focus for again for 10-15 seconds, and go back to the distant object. Do this 5 times. Try sitting about 6 inches (15 cm) from a window. Make a mark on the glass (ideally a small red or black sticker) at eye-level. Look through this mark and focus on something far away, then adjust your focus to the mark.
Move your arm slowly to your nose. Follow the pencil with your eyes until you can’t keep it in focus. Repeat 10 times. (Another approach is to tie an object to a hanging light string and swing it to and fro while you try to keep the dangle in focus.)
Don’t move your head. This may seem difficult at first, but with a bit of practice it is really fun. The bigger the letters, the better the effect.
Bar Swings: Stand in front of a fence, barred window, or something else with evenly spaced vertical lines. Focus loosely on a distant object on the other side of the bars. Relax your body and rhythmically transfer your weight from one foot to the other. Keep your breathing steady and relaxed. Don’t forget to blink while performing this exercise. Continue for 2-3 minutes.
Round Swings: Focus on an object in the distance that is close to the ground. Sway as instructed for Bar Swings. Keeping your gaze on the same object, use your peripheral vision to observe your surroundings as you sway. Continue for 2-3 minutes.
Head Movements: Close one eye. Slowly form a figure 8 with your head. Repeat for the other eye. Continue for 2-3 minutes
Look at the middle of the clock. Then look at any hour mark, without turning your head. Look back at the center. Then look at another hour mark. Do this at least 12 times. You can also do this exercise with your eyes closed.
Make up and down eye movements, starting from up to down. Do this 8 times. Then do the side to side eye movement, starting from left to right. Repeat this 8 times. Be sure not to force your eyes further than they want to go in any particular direction, or you risk making your vision worse.