Monday, April 8, 2013

Your eyes deserve as much attention as the rest of you

Bright Focus Foundation

Have you seen the commercials advertising vitamins for your eyes? Initially, I didn’t see their point. Then I thought about it and really – the eyes are an organ -- and as such deserve as much attention as the heart.   

While supplements may help – ophthalmologists say it’s important to get the nutrients you need through whole foods, a diet high in specific antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, zinc, or carotenoid plant pigments such as beta-carotene or lutein. My parent pushed carrots, along with lots of dark, green leafy vegetables, as being good for the peeps. 

“Researchers are finding that those who eat a wide range of healthy foods ‘have much lower odds for having age-related diseases,’” said Julie Mares, a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, in a report by the Chicago Tribune. 

Everybody’s eyesight changes as they get older but some of these can be related to serious problems such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.

“As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of macular degeneration, and more than 3 million have some form of glaucoma,” according to the Bright Focus Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving brain and eye health. There may also be an association between untreated poor vision and cognitive impairment, which is another reason to take steps to protect your eyesight.”

The following are a few healthy practices to consider – as recommended by Bright Focus:

Protect your sight by eating right – that includes fruits, vegetables, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna and halibut. 

Exercise is important to maintaining good health – a daily regiment not only works to improve blood pressure and the immune system but benefits the eyes and brain.

Give up smoking. “Toxins found in cigarette smoke have been linked to an increased risk for developing macular degeneration,” according to the Bright Focus Foundation.

Invest in high-quality sunglasses. Look for products that have a rating of 99- or 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection. And consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.

Make good vision a priority. When you schedule your annual physical, also schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam with an eye doctor. The exam should include: Visual acuity, testing your sight at various distances using an eye chart; Pupil dilation, using eye drops that widen the pupil so the doctor can examine for signs of disease and tonometry, which is a test for fluid pressure inside the eye.

Warning signs

The following could be symptoms of a serious eye problem:

* Vision loss
* Sudden blurred or hazy vision
* Shadows appearing over the center of your vision
* Eye pain accompanied by nausea or vomiting
* Halos around the lights at night
* Distortion or waviness of vision * Tunnel vision/loss of side vision 

BrightFocus Foundation provides free information to the public and advances vital research to end glaucoma, macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease. More information about these topics is available at Bright Focus Foundation

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