Nutrition and Eye Health

Research suggests that antioxidants and other important nutrients may reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Specific antioxidants can have additional benefits as well; for example, vitamin A protects against blindness, and vitamin C may play a role in preventing or alleviating glaucoma.

The following vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been shown to be essential for good vision and may protect your eyes from sight-robbing conditions and diseases.

Beta-Carotene
Beta-Carotene rich foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and butternut squash when taken in combination with zinc and vitamins C and E, may reduce the progression of macular degeneration.

Bioflavonoids (Flavonoids)
To help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, eat a diet rich in bioflavonoids, which comes from tea, red wine, citrus fruits, bilberries, blueberries, cherries, legumes, and soy products.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Eating plenty of spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and squash may prevent cataracts and macular degeneration because they are rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, freshly ground flaxseeds, and walnuts may help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eyes.

Vitamin A
Foods such as beef or chicken liver, eggs, butter, and milk contain vitamin A and may protect against night blindness and dry eyes.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C rich foods like sweet peppers (red or green), kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe, may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Vitamin D
Foods high in vitamin D such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and milk may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun stimulates production of vitamin D in human skin, and just a few minutes of exposure to sunlight each day will insure your body is producing adequate amounts of vitamin D.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E rich foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts may reduce the risk of advanced AMD.

Zinc
Zinc rich foods such as oysters, beef, Dungeness crab, turkey (dark meat) may play a role in reducing risk of advanced AMD and reduce the risk of night blindness.

In general, it’s best to obtain most nutrients through a healthy diet, including at least two servings of fish per week and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.

We recommend trying Imperfect Produce– a company that sources not so perfect fruits and veggies and delivers them right to your door at 30-50% less than the grocery store. You can even get $10 off your first order!

The Effects of Smoking on Your Eyes

Sure, you know that lighting up a cigarette is never healthy — but did you know that smoking even damages eye health?

Cigarette smoke is extremely toxic, containing as many as 4,000 active compounds, including tar, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals. Its effects on the lungs and heart have been well established by medical researchers and are well known.

Not as well known are the detrimental effects that smoking can have on your vision. Smoking has been directly linked to two of the leading causes of vision loss, cataracts and macular degeneration. In fact, researchers believe smoking also causes or contributes to a number of other eye health problems.

The Link Between Smoking and Cataracts
Research has found that smokers have double the risk of developing cataracts compared with non-smokers. This risk is triple for heavy smokers. In fact, doctors have discovered a specific relationship between cataracts and the amount that you smoke — the more you smoke, the more chance you have of developing cataracts.

Cataracts occur when the eye’s naturally clear lens grows cloudy over time. This age-related condition causes blurry vision, faded colors, and increased sensitivity to glare. For some people, having cataracts is like trying to see through a waterfall.

Doctors believe smoking contributes to cataracts by altering the cells of the lens through oxidation. There is also evidence that smoking leads to the accumulation of heavy metals like cadmium in the lens.

Smoking and Macular Degeneration: What’s the Connection?
Smoking also increases a person’s risk of developing macular degeneration. Studies have found that smokers face a risk of developing macular degeneration that is two to four times greater than that of people who have never smoked. As with cataracts, doctors have found that the risk increases the more a person has smoked. Researchers have also found an increased risk of macular degeneration in people who don’t smoke but are frequently exposed to environmental cigarette smoke.

Macular degeneration involves the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina that allows us to perceive fine details. As the macula wears out, people experience blurriness, distortions, or blind spots in their central vision.

Doctors believe that smoking promotes macular degeneration by interfering with blood flow to the retina. Smoking might also increase the deleterious effects of oxidation on the cells of the macula.

Other Eye Health Problems Related to Smoking
Studies also have linked cigarette smoking to eye problems such as:

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Dry eyes
  • Optic nerve damage
  • Lazy eye
  • Conjunctivitis

Vision Problems and Smoking: What You Can Do
There is hope for smokers who want to avoid smoking-related vision loss. Research has found that quitting smoking does improve their chances of avoiding eye disease. For example, studies show that people who quit smoking will have a 6.7 percent reduced risk of developing macular degeneration after one year. After five years, the risk drops by another 5 percent.

The same goes for cataracts. The eyes can heal from the damage done by cigarette smoking, although very slowly. Doctors say people who have quit smoking for 25 years have a 20 percent lower risk of cataracts when compared with current smokers.

One of the safest things to do for your vision? Never start smoking at all. Ex-smokers still have an increased risk of vision loss from cataracts or macular degeneration when compared with people who have never lit up a cigarette.

Routine, comprehensive eye exams will help monitor and prevent the effects of smoking on your eyes. Make an appointment today!

Contact Lenses & Presbyopia

Is your vision with your current contacts not as clear at all distances as it was before? Are you having difficulty reading smaller print or seeing in low light? Are you finding yourself holding objects further>>>>away to see them clearly? Have you enlarged the text on your digital devices?

Now with multifocal contact lenses for presbyopia, you may be able to stay in contact lenses longer, without compromising vision or comfort. The result is balanced vision near, far and in-between, across variable lighting conditions, along with remarkable comfort — even in challenging environments that can make your eyes feel tired and dry. Make an appointment today to see if multifocal contact lenses are right for you!

Digital Eye Strain

Computers, tablets, e-readers, smartphones and other electronic devices with visual displays all can cause tired eyes, digital eye strain, and computer vision syndrome.

Here are some tips that can help reduce digital eye strain:

Get a comprehensive eye exam.
Having a routine comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. If you haven’t had an eye exam in over a year, schedule a visit with an eye doctor near you.

Use proper lighting.
Eye strain often is caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices. If possible, position your computer monitor or screen so windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.

Minimize glare.
Glare on walls and finished surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen also can cause computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and, if possible, paint bright white walls a darker color with a matte finish. If you wear glasses, purchase lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating. AR coating reduces glare by minimizing the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses.

Adjust your computer display settings.
Adjusting the display settings of your computer can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Generally, these adjustments are beneficial:

  • Brightness. Adjust the brightness of the display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding workstation. As a test, look at the white background of this Web page. If it looks like a light source, it’s too bright. If it seems dull and gray, it may be too dark.
  • Text size and contrast. Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially when reading or composing long documents. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
  • Color temperature. This is a technical term used to describe the spectrum of visible light emitted by a color display. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eye strain than longer wavelength hues, such as orange and red. Reducing the color temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted by a color display for better long-term viewing comfort.

Blink more often.
Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation.

Exercise your eyes.
Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Some eye doctors call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.

Take frequent breaks.
To reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome and neck, back and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks during your computer work day.

Consider computer eyewear.
For the greatest comfort at your computer, you might benefit from having your eye care professional modify your eyeglasses prescription to create customized computer glasses. This is especially true if you normally wear contact lenses, which may become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer work. Computer glasses also are a good choice if you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, because these lenses generally are not optimal for the distance to your computer screen.

What is dry eye?

What is dry eye?
Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly.

In addition, inflammation of the surface of the eye may occur along with dry eye. If left untreated, this condition can lead to pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea, and some loss of vision. However, permanent loss of vision from dry eye is uncommon.

Dry eye can make it more difficult to perform some activities, such as using a computer or reading for an extended period of time, and it can decrease tolerance for dry environments, such as the air inside an airplane.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Dry eye symptoms may include any of the following:

  • stinging or burning of the eye;
  • a sandy or gritty feeling as if something is in the eye;
  • episodes of excess tears following very dry eye periods;
  • a stringy discharge from the eye;
  • pain and redness of the eye;
  • episodes of blurred vision;
  • heavy eyelids;
  • inability to cry when emotionally stressed;
  • uncomfortable contact lenses;
  • decreased tolerance of reading, working on the computer, or any activity that requires sustained visual attention;
  • eye fatigue.

How is dry eye treated?
Depending on the causes of dry eye, your doctor may use various approaches to relieve the symptoms. Most common treatments are lubricating eye drops and healthy blinking techniques.

If you suffer from any symptoms of dry eye, it’s time to get some relief! Make an appointment today!