Dr. Melanie Reese
May is National Save Your Vision Month. Many of us believe that having good vision means that our eyes are healthy, but that is not always the case. Regular comprehensive eye exams can ensure that you not only maintain good vision, but that you keep your eyes, and ultimately your body, healthy as well. Getting an eye exam is the first step that you need to take to save your vision.
Adults, especially those over age 40, should have their eyes tested yearly; not only to keep their prescriptions for glasses or contacts current, but also to check for early signs of eye disease. Your eye doctor can detect common eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, dry eyes, floaters and macular degeneration. The health of your eyes is also an indicator of your overall health. Eye doctors are often the first health care providers to detect systemic diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Annual eye exams are not just for adults. Children need to get regular eye exams as well. Healthy vision is essential to a child’s ability to learn and achieve their academic potential. Most people think that just because a child can see the eye chart at a vision screening at school or the pediatrician’s office, that that means that they have perfect vision.A child who can see 20/20 can still have a vision problem. It is important for parents to know that vision screenings are not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.Even if your child seems to be able to see OK, and doesn’t complain, you still need to schedule an eye exam.
Routine eye exams are important for everyone, no matter your age. In honor of Save Your Vision Month, please make sure you schedule your eye exam this month, if you haven’t already had an exam this year.
Appropriate Diet for Eye Health
\Researchers have found a link between good nutrition and maintaining eye health. Scientists now believe that some age-related eye diseases may be slowed by vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables, or taken in supplement form. Antioxidants, Minerals, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids can help prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Cataracts, and other eye diseases. The following vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been shown to be essential for good vision and may protect your eyes from sight-robbing conditions and diseases.
Vitamin A is a very essential vitamin. Found in beef, chicken, liver, cod liver oil, eggs, butter and milk it protects against night blindness and dry eyes.
Vitamin C found insweet peppers,kale, strawberries,broccoli,oranges, and cantaloupes prevents cataracts, delays macular degeneration, and eye pressure reduction in glaucoma patients.
Vitamin D – The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight.Food Sources: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, milk, orange juice fortified with vitamin D. It helps to reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration
Vitamin E found in almonds, pecans, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts When combined with carotenoids and vitamin C, may reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration.
Beta Carotene found in Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, butternut squash May protect against night blindness and dry eyes.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin found in spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens and squash Reduces the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
Selenium found in shrimp, crab, halibut, salmon and Brazil nuts,brown rice and enriched noodles is useful when combined with vitamins C and E, may reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration.
Zinc found in Oysters, beef, black-eyed peas, tofu, Dungeness crab, turkey (dark meat) helps vitamin A to reduce the risk of night blindness, may play a role in reducing the risk of advanced macular degeneration.
Caution should be exercised regarding three antioxidants: vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E. Vitamin A in excess of 5000 units has been linked with osteoporosis. Beta-carotene has been associated with lung cancer in smokers. Vitamin E in excess of 400 units has been linked with excessive blood thinning. People who are on coumadin or aspirin should be particularly cautious about their vitamin E dosage.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help prevent, or at least slow the progression of, age-related vision loss caused by conditions such as Cataracts and Macular degeneration. If you plan to begin a regimen of eye vitamins, be sure to discuss this with your physician. Taking too much of certain vision supplements can cause problems, especially if you are taking prescription medications for health problems.
Smoking doesn’t contribute to eye health
Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body, including your eyes. Smokers are four times more likely to go blind in old age. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing Cataracts, Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), and Diabetes. Smoking can also affect dry eye symptoms. Tobacco smoke is a known eye irritant and worsens dry eye symptoms, particularly for contact lens wearers. There is hope for smokers who want to avoid smoking-related vision loss. It is never too late to quit. Studies show that quitting smoking can have significant benefits at any age.
Dr. Melanie A. Reese is an optometrist in private practice in Sunrise, Fl. Please forward any comments or questions to [email protected]