Did you know.....? July is officially Healthy Vision Awareness month. I believe "Awareness" months, weeks, and days serve as important reminders not just to take charge of our own health, but to recognize and show support for loved ones and others who may be living with challenging health conditions. Keeping an eye on your vision health is a key preventive strategy to healthy and happy aging.
Personally I'll admit I may have bragged a bit in the past of how "great" my eyesight was (emphasis on was). And then, seemingly out of the blue, my pre-bedtime reading ritual got a little blurry. I found myself squinting to focus the words. Eye exams continued to affirm 20/20 vision, but it's kind of easy to cheat on those eye exams, so maybe that's where the term "cheaters" came from (in regard to that first pair of over-the-counter "readers" +1.0 that you can pick up at the grocery store). And most of us digress from there. This "condition" most often sets in between the ages of 40 and 60 years. It's called presbyopia. And while presbyopia is a relatively "normal" event of aging, it can be a humbling reminder of how precious it is to have sight and to be mindful about eye health.
Changes in your eyes - sight, redness, bulging, dryness, watering - may indicate not only vision problems, but signs of other chronic diseases including (but not limited to) diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, stress, even retinal detachment. Therefore, I do recommend that you have your eyes checked annually and be sure to mention any changes to your primary care doctor, ophthalmologist, or optometrist.
I mentioned presbyopia as a more benign aspect of eye changes as we age. There are more concerning conditions of aging, including macular degeneration, that usually occurs most often in people over the age of 65 years. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of progressive vision loss in people above age 65 in developed countries around the world. Cataracts and diabetic retinopathy are also major causes of vision loss in Americans. While I am not going to go into any detail on one specific eye "disease," the overall prevention and early treatment strategies for most eye diseases will be addressed here.
Mainstream medicine is growing more cognizant of the importance of nutrient/dietary supplement therapy for eye health optimization. The nutrients most often recommended include vitamins C, E, A, and beta-carotene along with the minerals zinc and copper. I've noticed that many optometrists are now carrying supplements in their practices and in addition to the vitamins and minerals just mentioned, they may also recommend Omega-3 fatty acids, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Bilberry, Lycopene, and CoEnzyme Q10. All have validity and definitely are important components of healthy vision and overall eye health. To add to and give some recommended doses, I've created a top ten list of my go-to tips for optical optimization.
Eat a rainbow - Consume a Diet Rich in Dark-Green Leafy Veggies, Berries, and Healthy Fats
Broccoli, kale, chard, cauliflower, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, pomegranate, tomato, avocado, fish, olive oil
Protect eyes from UVA & UVB radiation as well as computer glare. Wear appropriate protective eyewear for sports or work hazards. Sunglasses and UV-protective eye wear - always.
Maintain balanced blood sugar and lose the sugar habit.
Inner and outer hydration - this is especially important if you live in a dry climate. We've got awesome gel-like and watery fluids that need proper nutrition and hydration, so remember to drink at least half your weight (in ounces) of water daily, and if you are working out a lot or working outdoors, you'll probably want to add at least one serving of electrolytes to your day.
Get regular exercise. This is part of the maintaining balanced blood sugar discussion - we are aiming to reduce our risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. All of which respond very positively to resistance training, anaerobic and aerobic exercises.
Here are some generalized recommended doses for nutritional supplements (and remember to discuss this with your family doctor before starting any new supplement program - I don't know if any of the mentioned supplements may interfere with your current meds or supplement program). Worth mentioning: many of the supplements mentioned below may be found combined in eye-health formulas. You can link to my vision health protocol within my Wellevate dispensary.
Vitamin C - 500 to1000 milligrams (mg)/day (I preferred buffered vitamin C)
Beta-Carotene - up to 10,000 IU/day
Vitamin E - up to 400 mg/day
Vitamin D - up to 5000 IU/day
Zinc - 25 mg/day
Copper - 2 mg/day
Selenium - up to 200 micrograms/day
Chromium - 150 mg/day
Bilberry - 100 to 200mg/day
Lutein - 10 mg/day
Zeaxanthin - 2 mg/day
Lycopene - up to 20 mg/day
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - no more than 1500 mg/day combined
Moisturizing Eye Drops - I like Complete Eye Relief by Similasan (you can find at most natural food stores, pharmacies, and on my Wellevate Dispensary portal.
To reduce inflammation and swelling, I like to use teabags (black tea or chamomile are my go-tos) - you will soak the tea bags in hot water (save the tea for drinking after) for just a few minutes, then squeeze out most of the moisture and place on closed eyelids (make sure they have cooled down enough first). Relax for ten minutes with eyes closed and teabags on.
Bonus - Use common sense. Keep your dirty hands OUT of your eyes. Wash hands often because you're likely still going to stick your fingers in your hands. Change out your mascara every month. Don't use other peoples eyeliners or mascaras.
Here's a link to my online supplement dispensary: Wellevate - Click on my Protocols: Eye and Vision Health.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. Absolutely no obligation to order anything.