By Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN
Healthy eyes and vision are vital to overall health and wellbeing. Practicing good eye healthcare now will help ensure healthy vision for a lifetime. It’s normal to experience some changes in vision as we age, such as the need for reading glasses or some changes in the way we experience colors. However, vision loss is not a normal part of aging. People with vision problems are more likely to have diabetes, poor hearing, heart problems, high blood pressure and stroke. Many eye problems and diseases, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, can be treated when detected early.
A regular eye exam is one of the best ways to protect your eyesight. Another way to safeguard your vision is through diet and proper eye nutrition. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to keep your eyes healthy and disease free. Following healthy lifestyle guidelines will not only maintain your general health but will also help maintain healthy vision well into your golden years. Vision is precious and should not be taken for granted. Beyond seeing your eye care professional for a dilated eye exam, you can help protect your eyesight by following these healthy vision tips:
Nutrition – No surprise here. Protecting your eyesight begins with the foods you eat. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, zeaxanthin, and vitamins C and E can help ward off age-related vision problems such as dry eye syndrome, cataracts and macular degeneration. Foods rich in beta-carotenes, found in orange fruits and vegetables, help to protect the retina and keep the eyes functioning smoothly. A healthy well-balanced diet will help to maintain a healthy weight, lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes which is a leading cause of blindness in adults.
Exercise - If you are already exercising, you are on the right track to protecting your eye health. Exercise increases circulation, which can lower elevated pressure in the eyes, a common problem with glaucoma. Physical activity is known to reduce inflammation and irregularities in the blood vessel walls associated with macular degeneration and has been shown to lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration by as much as 70%. Regular exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, lowering your risk of many health problems.
Lubrication - Keeping your eyes hydrated and lubricated is vital to vision health. Discomfort and redness aren’t the only symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome. Studies show that slowed reading speed rates directly correlate to severity of dry eye disease. Drinking more water, supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and using lubricating eye drops can often help to alleviate dry eye symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of developing dry eye syndrome by reducing general inflammation and increasing the levels of anti-inflammatory mediators in the eyes. Omega-3′s improve the way the meibomian glands in the eyelids produce and secrete the oil that helps stabilize tear production.
Protection - Sunglasses are more than a fashion statement. Sunglasses block harmful ultraviolet rays that play a role in the development of macular degeneration and cataracts. Choose sunglasses that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays and use them year round.
Rest – To reduce eyestrain caused by focused activity such as spending long hours looking at a computer screen, look away at least every 20 minutes to give you eyes a break. When we are truly focused on one thing, we don’t blink as often. This can lead to eyestrain, dry eyes and even broken blood vessels in the eyes. Studies have shown that the eyes need at least 5 hours of sleep each night to properly replenish so they can work at their full potential the next day. Lack of sleep can lead to eye spasms, an aggravating although not serious problem that can be corrected by getting enough quality rest each night.
Safeguarding your health by choosing a healthy lifestyle can prevent the development of age-related eye and health problems. Getting regular overall physicals and eye exams can lead to early detection of diseases, such as diabetes or systemic conditions, that can affect your vision health. Eye problems are often hereditary, so if you are experiencing any problems with your eyes, don’t wait to see an eye care professional.
The following products support eye health and aid eye health related symptoms:
BioTears by BioSyntrx addresses the underlying inflammatory processes associated with dry eye syndrome. BioTears relieves symptoms such as dryness, irritation, burning and excessive tearing. This nutritional formula includes omega-3′s and contains specific nutrient co-factors that support normal tear film production.
4 Sight by Ortho Molecular is a natural eye health support supplement that is formulated with lycopene, zinc, xeaxanthin, lutein, antioxidants, herbs and other nutrients for eye health maintenance during the aging process.
Oculair by BioSyntrx provides full spectrum vitamins, minerals and organ-specific antioxidants for eye and full body support for the normal aging process.
Allergy Eye Drops by Natural Ophthalmics addresses allergy symptoms that affect the eyes, such as itching, burning, watering, edema and general ocular sensitivity. This sterile, non-preserved, pH balanced isotonic solution contains only homeopathic ingredients.