HEALTHY EATING HABITS
PLAY A ROLE IN EYE HEALTH
In honor of Save Your
Vision Month, celebrated each March, Dr. S. Moshe Roth and staff
at Family Eye Care want to remind you about the importance of healthy
eating habits for optimum eye health.
More than 22 million
Americans suffer from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
(AMD), the two leading causes of visual loss and blindness. "Because
cataracts require costly surgery and treatment options for AMD are
currently limited, preventive measures play a particularly important
role in maintaining good eye health," said Dr. Roth.
Based on research by
the National Eye Institute, in addition to countless clinical trials,
studies and surveys, there is a positive correlation between good
nutrition and the prevention of AMD and cataracts. Studies have
suggested that by eating foods rich in six nutrients -- antioxidants
lutein and zeaxanthin, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc
-- you can protect your eyes from disease. In other words, healthy
eating habits can mean healthy eyes.
So, what type of foods
are EYE HEALTHY? If you are familiar with the link between carrots
and good eye health, then you have done some homework. Let's explore
other foods that can benefit your eyes. These are foods that contain
the six key nutrients for eye health.
Most fruits and vegetables
are great sources of vitamin C, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries,
papaya, green peppers and tomatoes.
Vitamin E is more difficult
to obtain from food sources, since it is found in very small quantities.
However, good food sources include vegetable oils (safflower and
corn oil), almonds, pecans, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.
Beta-carotene is present
in dark green leafy vegetables (spinach!), deep orange or yellow
fruits (carrots, mangos, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and
peaches), vegetables and fortified cereals.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
are found together in many food sources. Dark green leafy vegetables
are the primary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin (kale, collard
greens and spinach), but they are also present in lesser amount
in other colorful fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, orange
peppers, corn, peas, persimmons and tangerines.
Good food sources of
zinc include meat, liver, shellfish, milk, whole grains and wheat
Eating healthy for your
eyes could be the most promising means of protecting your eyes from
AMD and cataracts. In addition, planning menus rich in the nutrients
described above can mean better overall health for you and your
family. Consider eating eye healthy foods and gain benefits for
your whole body.
Protect Your Eyes From The Sun To Keep Them Healthy
It is also important
to protect your eyes from the damaging rays of the sun. "The
sun's damaging effects are a concern year round regardless of what
the temperature is outside," said Dr. Roth
In addition to visible
light, the sun gives off ultraviolet radiation. This radiation is
divided into three types: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. The earth's ozone
layer absorbs UV-C radiation, leaving sunglasses to protect against
UV-A and UV-B rays.
Studies indicate that
long-term exposure to UV-A and UV-B can contribute to the development
of cataracts; retinal problems; benign growths on the eye's surface;
cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eyes; and photokeratitis,
a temporary but painful sunburn of the eye's surface.
"The sun's brightness
creates a disabling glare that interferes with comfortable vision
and the ability to see clearly," adds Dr. Roth. It causes eyes
to squint and to water. This glare occurs on cloudy as well as sunny
days. On snowy days, sunglasses reduce the reflected glare that
occurs when the sun's light bounces off snow.
The best protection against
the sun's damaging rays is consistent use of sunglasses. Use the
following tips when selecting your next pair of sunglasses. For
optimum sun protection, the sunglasses should:
block out 99-100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation
screen out 75-90 percent of visible light (fashion-tinted lenses
usually do not meet this level)
be perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection
have gray, green, or brown lenses (gray is recommended)
Children and teenagers
are particularly susceptible to the sun's damaging rays because
they typically spend more time outdoors than adults and the lenses
of their eyes are more transparent than those of adults. Thus, this
allows more UV radiation to reach the retinas of children and teenagers
(the retina is the light sensitive layer at the back of the eyes.)
The effects of UV radiation are cumulative, so it's important to
develop good protection habits early in life.
Give yourself the gift
of healthy vision with a great pair of sunglasses-your eyes will
love you for it.
There's more to healthy vision than 20/20 eyesight!
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