Thursday, October 4, 2012

Guest post: Eye health
Today we've got a guest post from Emily Joseph on eye health.

This is a topic of interest to me because I, like many people with autoimmune diseases, have Sjogren's symptoms (Sjogren's causes very dry eyes and mouth) and lately my nearsightedness seems to be worse, and, oddly, I can't read my iphone screen unless I take my glasses off. These are minor inconveniences, but I am concerned about any loss of vision, because loss of vision means loss of independence.  Please chime in, in the comments section, with your thoughts and experiences.

Lifestyle and Diet Tips to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

We go out of our way to try to keep our waistlines trim, our skin looking good, and our hair shiny and smooth, but not very many people think about one of the most important parts of their body - their eyes!

Other than those people who grow up with eye problems that require glasses or contacts, the vast majority of us barely think about our eyes even though we use them every day as our primary way to interact with the world. We know that eye problems can develop over time, but no one ever mentions that it might be possible to prevent or slow down some of the ways that our eyes can start to break down on us as we get older by eating better and living smarter.

It's true! Things like cataracts and macular degeneration can be slowed, and some diseases - like diabetic retinopathy - are directly related to poor eating habits. So if you want to keep yourself clear eyed and ready to face the world for as long as possible, try following these tips.

Give those peepers the nutrients they need. That means plenty of leafy greens, fruits - especially citrus fruits, oily fish like tuna and salmon, and protein that doesn't just come from meat (e.g. nuts, beans, eggs, and so on). Why these foods? Because they're high in the things your eyes crave: zinc, lutein, zeathaxin, vitamins E and C, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Wear sunglasses. We all know that UV rays from the sun are dangerous. Heck, many of us lather up our bodies in ridiculous amounts of sunscreen even if we're just walking down the block. So if you're going to be that careful with your skin, why wouldn't you do so with your eyes? Good sunglasses can block both UVA and UVB rays, and should even be worn by people who have UV contact lenses because the glasses will protect your sensitive eyelids as well.

Just say no to nicotine. As if smokers didn't have enough problems, here's another one: smoking has been linked to things like damage to your optic nerves, cataracts, and macular degeneration. On the flip side, having healthier eyes is yet another benefit that you'll get by finally managing to quit and stay tobacco-free.

Stay fit. Eating a healthier diet should help with this, but it's important to exercise as well. Why? Because fatty tissue itself might actually be harming your eyes if you have too much of it because it can soak up nutrients that would otherwise go to protecting your eyes.

Keep your blood pressure down. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says that macular degeneration is more likely to occur in people with high blood pressure. There's no definitive reason why, but many experts believe that blood vessels can be damaged when there is too much pressure in the body, which would make it harder to get blood to flow to your eyes. Less blood means that free-radical debris will stay in your eyes longer and it will be more difficult for them to get the nutrients they need.

Use protective glasses. Obviously you can't see if you poke your eyes out or allow some kind of damaging material to fly into them, so always make sure that you use protective glasses when working in any kind of environment where your eyes could be put in danger.

About the Author: Emily Joseph has been covering eye care topics including laser eye surgery for over a decade. When she isn’t writing, you can find her spending time at home or training for her upcoming triathlon.
About the blog host: Carla Ulbrich is The Singing Patient, a medical musical comedian who performs for patients, caregivers, healthcare workers, and even "earth people." She is frequently heard on Dr. Demento and Sirius XM's Laugh USA.