Eyes Wide Open
Today’s technology has brought convenience to our daily lives. We have access to every news, service, product, communication and loads of information through the Internet. And because of these, we are constantly looking at our smartphones, laptops and every other gadget available.
We spend countless hours on the computer at work, we go from one place to another not knowing we have exposed ourselves to free radicals that damage our vision.
Many people train their muscles in the gym, buy tons of skin care products, and spend countless money for meditation retreats but neglect the most used organ in the body, the eyes.
However, again thanks to technology and modern medicine, eye conditions today are easily treatable in many cases.
The Eye Vitamin
There are over 1,100 different types of carotenoids but only twenty are focused on the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin occur largely in the macula part of the eye and help fight free radicals that increase the risk of developing vision loss or age-related diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Lutein, together with zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin, block blue light and harmful radiation and ultraviolet rays that could lead to age-related macular degeneration.
Known as the “Eye Vitamin”, lutein increases protection of healthy cells by stopping the growth of malignant cells, decrease eye strain and eye damage.
Experts found that intake of 6 mg of lutein, reduces the risk of macular degeneration by 43%.
A deficiency in lutein may cause other eye conditions such as conjunctivitis and retinitis pigmentosa.
Beyond Eye Health
Lutein’s functions goes beyond taking care of the eyes, this carotenoid is also good for the skin. It provides elasticity and moisture and improves wrinkles thus slows down skin aging.
Tests on animals have shown that lutein provides significant protection from skin damage caused by the sun’s UV rays.
A study conducted by Dr. Naiman Khan, Ph.D. of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign published in Nutrients, showed that lutein may have positive effects on cognitive function.
According to Dr. Khan: “Lutein, being a potent antioxidant with inflammatory properties, may have overlapping neuroprotective effects for general and selective domains of cognitive function.
For example, lutein has been found to selectively co-localize in brain membranes with omega-3 fatty acids; therefore, it is possible that the implications of lutein for fluid intelligence are mediated by sparing vital omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from oxidation, and preserving membrane fluidity.
… lutein supplementation appears to moderate cognitive decline in verbal learning and may benefit neurocognitive function by enhancing cerebral perfusion among older adults”
| Related: 10 Ways How You Can Improve Your Brain Power
Free Radical Protector
Lutein is rich in fruits and vegetables, especially in anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer foods such as cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale and many other green leafy vegetables.
Turnips, black cabbage, foods in yellow and orange color such as papaya, pumpkin, and tomatoes are also good sources of lutein.
A healthy diet is a good way to naturally increase lutein in the body. But there are also commercially available supplements such as Allysian Elements Plus, Systane ICaps, Biosyntrx Eye & Body Complete; these are helpful additions to protect the eyes and skin.
| Related: 12 Healthy Foods High in Antioxidants
4 Tips to Maintain Good Eyesight
Eye problems are often the result of several other diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid metabolism disorders, autoimmune diseases, which must be treated first in order to avoid problems with eyesight.
A regular eye exam is recommended to prevent occurrence of eye problems in older adults such as myopia, glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration.
However, some eye diseases are preventable with proper eye care.
1. Maintain a healthy diet
A balanced diet composed of vitamins, fibers, low-fat, high-fish will keep you fit and prevent eye diseases.
Carrots contain vitamin A which is the best food for the sensory cells on the retina and sharpens vision.
Paprika, beetroot, broccoli, avocado salad and citrus fruits are also “eye vitamin” donors.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are not just vitamin bombs, they are also rich in lutein. Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, herring or nuts are not only act like a balm for the skin and heart, but also for the eyes.
Water is also important for the eyes. The eyes need fluid for blood circulation. If you drink too little, blood cannot circulate and supply the eyes. Drink at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day.
2. Give your eyes a break
This is especially important for people who spend the whole day in front of a computer.
Breaks can include yawning (until the eyes become moist), conscious and frequent blinking, proper ventilation, proper screen position (50 to 70 centimeters from the viewer) and proper lighting.
Lights that are too bright, flickering and glaring are harmful to the eyes.
If you wear glasses consult an ophthalmologist if you need goggles. This is a visual aid to set optimum viewing distance which normal glasses may not provide.
Sunglasses are also important for eye care, they serve as sunscreen from UV rays. Children are also advised to wear these to prevent consequential damage.
3. Keep a regular exercise regimen
Anything that promotes and improves blood circulation is good for the eyes.
Sports even in moderation improves blood circulation in the optic nerves thus helps prevent eye problems.
4. Get eye check ups
Even if your eyes are in good condition, get your eyes check by an ophthalmologist at least once a year.
In this way, eye problems can be detected early, cured or stopped right away.
People under 40 are recommended to go for an eye exam every two years.
While teenagers and school children, as young as 2 years old, should be checked once a year to avoid strabismus, a condition where one eye looks directly on one object while the other is misaligned.
Only when discrepancies are detected can one eye weakness be prevented.