It’s not surprising to hear many of my patients express concern about the continuous decline in their vision. Some even confess their belief that cataract surgery is only a matter of time. However, as I pointed out in my last article, even serious eye disease like macular degeneration can be treated with natural methods. There is much you can do to prevent other common eye diseases and problems.
Many factors can contribute to fading vision and eye disease–factors you can control. Poor nutrition, too much sun exposure, air pollutants, and dehydration may all affect your eyes negatively. Let’s begin by looking at the most effective ways to care for your eyes on a daily basis.
Your Mother Was Right: Eat Your Carrots
Proper nutrition prevents, and may even correct, many eye and vision problems. Carrots and other orange-colored vegetables and fruits, such as sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and pumpkin, contain large amounts of vitamin A, a necessity for eye health and function.
If you’re in the mood for something different, try apricots. Three apricots provide 55% of the Daily Value for vitamin A. Other good sources of vitamin A that you might not have considered include plantains, tangerines and shallots. Leafy green vegetables provide vitamin A, as well as two super-nutrients for the eyes–lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants lower your risk for both cataracts and macular degeneration.
Vitamins C and E are a great combination that has been proven to work well together for the protection of your eyes. Papaya, sweet red peppers, kiwifruit, navel oranges, strawberries and broccoli are among the top sources. Vitamin E is found in several foods including asparagus, cherries, whole wheat and wheat germ. Another very good source of Vitamin E are nuts (particularly walnuts and almonds).
Vitamins B6 and B12 are also important for eye function. Unfortunately, they’re more difficult for our bodies to absorb as we grow older. To ensure you’re getting enough of these two nutrients, eat plenty of potatoes, bananas, chickpeas, turkey, lean meat and shellfish.
Healthy eyes also require proper amounts of two minerals, selenium and zinc. One easy way to get your selenium is to snack on Brazil nuts. If you buy them unshelled, just two of these nuts per day will provide the Daily Value of 200 mcg. Some experts believe that a deficiency in zinc may lead to retinal detachment. You can get extra zinc by consuming more oysters, lean beef and buckwheat.
When you overwork your eyes, they may feel tired and achy. If you need to focus closely for reading or computer work, take a break every 20 minutes or so by looking into the distance for a few minutes. It’s also important that you get plenty of sleep at night. If you experience eyestrain, try a cold compress, wet tea bags, or cold cucumber slices placed over the eyelids for ten minutes. If the strain leads to the occasional bloodshot eyes, try soaking a clean cloth in freshly brewed raspberry leaf tea. Apply to closed eyelids for ten minutes.
Six Easy Ways to Protect Your Eyes
1. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses that will block damaging ultraviolet rays from too much sun exposure.
2. Avoid smoke-filled rooms and areas with high concentrations of pollutants.
3. When working with chemicals or tools, protect your eyes with goggles.
4. If you wear contact lenses, take special care against injury and infection to the eye:
a. Don’t leave the lenses in your eyes longer than recommended
b. Keep your hands immaculate when touching the lenses.
5. Keep your blood pressure under control, since high blood pressure can damage the vessels around your eyes.
6. Visit your ophthalmologist regularly.
When You Have Eye Trouble
If you take good care of your eyes, you’ll guard against most eye diseases. Even if you have an occasional problem, you can treat it naturally. Dry eyes, for example, usually result from a vitamin A deficiency. In addition to taking a vitamin A supplement, you can drink plenty of pure water, use a humidifier, and avoid smoke. Similarly, itchy and tired eyes experienced over an extended period of time may indicate a need for vitamin B supplements.
If you have blurred vision due to nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, you probably already wear corrective lenses. You may have read or heard about certain exercises that can improve your vision. Although no medical evidence exists to support this method, exercising the internal eye muscles may improve your eyes’ ability to focus.
Dimming vision may indicate cataracts or glaucoma. I like giving my patients the good news that cataracts don’t necessarily require surgery. This condition can usually be reversed with early treatment. Experts suggest adding two supplements to your daily care: glutathione, an antioxidant which slows progression of cataracts, and vitamin B2.
Glaucoma, on the other hand, cannot be cured and usually causes irreversible loss of vision. Medication can control the milder form, and careful dietary supplementation may improve eyesight or prevent further decline.
As a final note, always make sure your eye symptoms aren’t the result of an underlying disease. Diabetes, for example, can cause retinopathy, in which the blood vessels around the retina leak and damage the cells. Or, bloodshot eyes may indicate a blood clot somewhere in the body. So always have your doctor check out any symptoms that persist.
Declining vision is not inevitable. Take action now to preserve your eyes and your chances of maintaining good vision and healthy eyes even into old age.