Our eyes are awesome and beautiful parts of our body that we often take for granted. Yet, even before lifting our head from the pillow, our ever-vigilant eyes are opened to glance at the clock and give us a “yay” or “nay” whether we should sleep 5 more minutes. They hang out with us through an entire day, enabling us to experience many of the joys that contribute to our rich and meaningful life. In fact, it is estimated that 90% of what we learn during our lifetime is learned through use of the eyes. It would be a terrible thing to lose our sight. However, with a little tender loving care we can enjoy our healthy eyes even into our nineties.
There are 4 common eye conditions that affect most people. The most common vision problems are refractive errors, more commonly known as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly onto the retina. The length of the eyeball changes the shape of the cornea, or aging of the lens can cause refractive errors. Most people have one or more of these conditions. In healthy eyes the cornea and lens bend (refract) incoming light rays so they focus precisely on the retina at the back of the eye. The term refraction is the bending of light as it passes through one object to another.
Vision occurs when light rays are bent (refracted) as they pass through the cornea and the lens. The light is then focused on the retina. The retina converts the light-rays into messages that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain. The brain interprets these messages into the images we see. Common symptoms of refractive vision problems can be blurred vision, double vision, haziness, glare or halos around bright lights, squinting, headaches, and eye strain.
Nearsightedness is the condition where objects up close appear clearly, while objects far away appear blurry. With nearsightedness, light comes to focus in front of the retina instead of on the retina.
Farsightedness is a common type of refractive problem in which distant objects may be seen more clearly than objects that are near. However, people experience farsightedness differently. Some people may not notice any problems with their vision, especially when they are young. For people with significant farsightedness, vision can be blurry for objects at any distance, near or far.
Presbyopia is a condition in which the ability to focus up close becomes more difficult. As the eye ages, the lens can no longer change shape enough to allow the eye to focus close objects clearly. This condition tend to be age related affecting most adults over 35.
Computer Eye Strain is a vision-related problem resulting from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. Digital screens used for extended periods of time can cause eye fatigue, and other vision-related problems.
Pink Eye is inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white area of the eyeball. This membrane is called the conjunctiva. When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, they are more visible, and the whites of the eyes to appear pink.
An eye care professional can diagnose refractive errors during a comprehensive dilated eye examination. People with a refractive error often visit their eye care professional with complaints of visual discomfort or blurred vision. A simple eye exam can also diagnose other diseases such as diabetes and heart conditions. It is advisable that you see your eye specialist at least once a year.There are many discounts available for adequate medical care for your eyes as well as for eye products. Shop around. At the end of this article you will find several links to discount merchants that offer great deals.
Key to healthy eyes is a healthy diet. As part of your healthy diet, choose foods rich in antioxidants, like Vitamins A and C; foods like leafy, green vegetables and fish. Eat spinach or other greens like collards and kale several times a week since they contain lutein, an antioxidant that greatly benefits the health of the eye’s macula, the part of the eye on the retina responsible for central vision.
Be sure to eat these foods with a bit of olive oil to help better absorb them. One cup of raw spinach or ½ cup of cooked spinach provides 6 mg of lutein. Cook with red onions instead of yellow since they have significantly more quercetin. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that may benefit age-related eye concerns. Many foods like fatty fish, such as salmon, contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that are important to the health of the macula. An inadequate intake of antioxidants, or saturated fats may create free-radical reactions that can harm the macula. High-fat diets can also cause deposits that constrict blood flow in the arteries. The eyes are especially sensitive to this, given the small size of the blood vessels that feed them.
The eye is surrounded by fluid, which protects it by washing away debris and dust every time we blink. In order to maintain a healthy balance of fluid in the eye it is important to stay well hydrated. With nearly five million Americans 50 years and older suffering from dry eyes, staying hydrated is key to prevention. Experts say to aim for eight glasses of water a day. Eyes that appear slightly moist look bright and healthy. Yet everyday activities, and even the foods we eat can dry up that sparkle.
Dry eyes respond well to supplements of evening primrose oil, or borage oil thanks to their content of gamma linoleic acid (GLA). GLA is the precursor to prostaglandin E-1, a substance that is necessary for the secretion of tears, and supplementing with GLA has been found to support tear production. Also drink plenty of plain bottled water to keep your eyes hydrated, and stay far from beverages or other foods sweetened with aspartame, which has a drying effect on eyes.
Healthy Eyes: Sleep and Eye Rest.
Sleep is the most natural form of eye care. Lack of sleep can lead to increased strain and can cause dark circles and bags under your eyes. Lack of sleep can cause dry eyes, twitchy eyes, and redness. Your eyes depend on sleep as a time to rest and restore. Give your eyes a full eight hours of sleep.
Healthy eyes need frequent breaks. Blinking often provide these breaks and prevent fatigue. Reduce computer-related eyestrain with the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Also, keep your computer screen between 20″-24″ from your eyes. Additionally, massage your temples and forehead often to reduce stress that could affect your vision.
Sun damage can seriously harm your eyes. For all of your outdoor activities, you need year-round UV protection for your eyes. Always wear eyeglasses and sunglasses with 100% UV protection. Even though 75 percent of Americans report having concerns about UV eye exposure, less than one-third (31 percent) wear sunglasses every time they go outside, according to the 2016 Vision Watch survey of more than 10,000 adults 18 and older.
Keeping your hands clean is important for general health, particularly for your eyes, and more so if you wear contact lenses. Always wash your hands with a mild soap and dry with a lint-free towel before touching your eyes. Some germs and bacteria that come from your hands can cause eye infections, like bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye). When you touch your eye, whatever is on your fingers goes right onto your eye’s surface. This is one way that people catch colds—rubbing their eyes while they have cold virus germs on their hands.
The National Eye Institute sponsored a major study that ended in 2001, and the researchers concluded that five key nutrients were beneficial to eye health. These are:
Beta-Carotene—15 mg, which is equivalent to 25,000 IU. Beta-carotene is different from vitamin A, however. Although the body makes vitamin A from beta-carotene, supplements of vitamin A (retinol palmitate or acetate) should not exceed 10,000 IU per day.
Vitamin E (Natural)—400 IU
Vitamin C—500 mg
Your sight is a vital part of who you are and certainly enhances the quality of your life. Be good to your eyes and it will be good to you. You too can have a long and healthy relationship with your eyes.
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