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Posted on 10-28-2016

Eye health maintenance is supported by many factors.   There are non-modifiable risk factors for eye disease such as heredity, age, race, and gender.   But there are also risk factors that we do have control over that increase the possibility of acquiring ocular health issues.   The benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle are numerous.   When you make healthy lifestyle choices, you are taking control of your overall physical health.   You will also notice that you feel better in other ways:  you will have the energy and vitality you need to lead a happy and fulfilling life.   Our lifestyle recommendations will also promote long-term general health.

1.  NUTRITION

     We all know that proper nutrition is essential to our well-being.   In addition to promoting long-term general health, developing good eating habits will nourish your eyes.

     Scientific research has identified a growing list of nutrients showing eye health promoting properties, such as antioxidants, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Zinc, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin D and Fiber.  The book, Eyefoods, A Food Plan For Healthy Eyes, describes these nutrients and identifies the amounts of each nutrient that has been scientifically shown to decrease the risk of certain eye diseases.   The book, which can be found at eyefoods.com, is loaded with great information regarding ways you can maintain eye health, including recipes, and we encourage each of you to consider looking at it.

     Some foods are high in Eye Nutrients.  Foods that contain the most eye nutrients are Eye Foods.   A diet filled with eyefoods helps to preserve eye health and fight eye disease such as Age Related Macular Degeneration.  To name a few: leafy, dark green vegetables, cold water fish, and orange vegetables.   Eyefoods, A Food Plan For Healthy Eyes, describes each eyefood and suggests targets for how much of each food to eat in a week to receive the proper amount of each Eye Nutrient to help prevent eye disease.

2.  UV AND BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE

     We know that sunlight can be beneficial to one’s health.   Sunlight provides much needed Vitamin D, as well as giving us a sense of well being.   But research has found that overexposure to Ultra-violet (UV) and Blue light ( which is emitted from computer devices, tablets and phones) can lead to cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and eye cancer.   The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin previously mentioned, act as a natural sunscreen for the eyes.   Eating foods rich in these nutrients will protect the macula from UV and Blue light damage.   And a good quality pair of polarized prescription sunglasses will help eliminate 100% of UV light, filter blue light, and reduce glare.

3.  SMOKING CESSATION

     Most people are aware that smoking greatly increases the risk of cancer and heart disease, but we don’t hear what it can do to our vision.   Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing AMD (age-related macular degeneration).   Scientists have found that current smokers are 45% more likely to develop AMD.   (Please note that current and former smokers should not take vitamin supplements with beta-carotene, as it increases the risk of developing lung cancer.)

     Smoking is also a risk factor for developing cataracts.   Also, lower Vitamin C levels found in ocular tissues of smokers may contribute to oxidative stress leading to cataract formation.

4.  EXERCISE

     We are all aware of the long-term health benefits of exercise and physical activity.   We recommend regular physical activity as part of an eye-friendly lifestyle.   Scientists believe that exercising at least three times per week can slow the progression of AMD.   Physical activity also has the benefit of weight control, reduced stress, and increased energy and vitality.

5.  WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

     Obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing several vision threatening diseases: diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.   Exercise and eating low glycemic impact diet, rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, will help a person to achieve a healthful weight.   An above normal Body Mass Index (BMI) and a larger waist circumference may be associated with increased risk of AMD.

     The choices we make can have a positive or negative effect on our bodies over a lifetime.   Nutrition, exercise, attitude and alcohol/drug use, added up over time, can influence how we age.   Taking care of ourselves through the years, both nutritionally and physically, can lead to a higher quality of life.   Could nutrition and lifestyle improve vision as we age?  It can’t hurt and it can only help.   Let’s all strive for healthy golden years!

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