Needless to say, your eyes are an important part of your health. However, we often take our eyes for granted. I always found it puzzling that people had the sense to focus on cardiovascular health, immune health or joint health and neglect something as vital as eye health. In fact, according to AllAboutVision.com, a 2011 survey of Americans aged 45-65, indicated that 50 percent of the respondents said they take nutritional supplements for joint, bone, and heart health. However, less than 20 percent said they take eye health supplements.
That said, there is a lot to think about when to considering the health of your eyes. The good news is much of what impacts eye health are adjustments than can be readily made in your life. The following are points I find particularly relevant for maintaining healthy eyes well into your golden years:
Your DNA: Talk to your family about their eye health history and its possible impact on you. It’s important to know if a family member has had a condition that may be hereditary. Family eye health history will help you determine if you are at risk for developing a similar condition in the future.
Weight Management: Maintaining an optimal weight decreases your risk of developing diabetes and other related conditions, which can lead to vision loss. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your healthcare professional about how this may impact your vision.
Smoking: It is well known that the tobacco smoke generated by smoking can cause damage to the person who is smoking, and also to the people around you. The health conditions most commonly associated with tobacco smoke are cancers and cardiovascular diseases. However, there is now a significant body of evidence showing an increased risk of a number of eye disorders, not only in those who smoke, but also in those who are frequently exposed to tobacco smoke. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.
Rest: If you are like me, and millions of other Americans, you spend a lot of time in front of the computer. Your eyes are like any other part of the body and can get fatigued. There is an activity for resting the eyes called “The 20-20-20 rule”: Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer and 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This will help reduce eyestrain.
Eat Right and Supplement: As a little kid, my parents always used to espouse how carrots were good for my eyes. However, did you know that eating your fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, are important for keeping your eyes healthy as well. Research has also shown that eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut are also good for the eyes. However, in this age of processed foods and nutrient deficient soil, and the mere fact people just don’t eat a healthy diet, many are reaching for supplements to bridge nutritional gaps. And eye health is no different.
They are many compelling eye health supplements – some that may surprise you. And there are some that are equally as underwhelming.
Later this week, we’ll cover three of my favorites.