Researchers are continually finding a link between good nutritional habits and eye health. Eye related eye diseases, like cataracts and macular degeneration are caused by a combination of ultraviolet light, poor diet, environmental factors and how our bodies handle such factors.
The good news is many of these eye diseases can be slowed by good nutritional habits. Genetics play a big role as well. The more research that is done, the more we are realizing that certain people do better with different combinations of vitamins due to genetic make-up. The best rule of thumb is to not smoke, wear UV protection and eat a well balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.
Dry eye syndrome is the number one ocular disease in most adults in America. It can have a variety of causes and symptoms. Some patients will report that they feel like they have something in the eye all the time, others will complain of extremely dry or watery eyes. Contact lens wearers may experience reduced wear time and many patients have constant red eyes. Many dry eye studies have been conducted and show that fish oil omega 3s as well as Vitamin A can have a positive impact on dry eye. There are many types of dry eye and a comprehensive eye exam can help determine which drops or therapies may be best for you.
Risk factors of macular degeneration include age, genetics, chronic inflammation, environmental factors, smoking and personal lifestyle choices. In the United States, macular degeneration is the leading cause of permanent visual loss after age 50. Macular degeneration can cause central vision loss, distortion of images, and decreased contrast sensitivity. Three minerals, called carotenoids, that are found in your retina can be built up by both green leafy vegetables and supplements. The biggest advancement in the treatment of early macular degeneration is genetic testing like MaculaRisk and VitaRisk. These personalized reports will guide you in which vitamins are going to be beneficial (or detrimental) according to your genetic profile.
If you live long enough, most likely you will develop some form of cataract. Cataract formation is from the damage of proteins within the ocular lens. These changes are UV exposure and the inability of the body to rebound from theses changes. Other types of cataracts are formed by uncontrolled blood glucose levels and longterm steroid use. A balanced diet that is high in Vitamins A, C, and E have been found to have protective effects.
Some say that the eyes are windows to the soul, but everyone can agree that eyes are a window into the overall health of your body. During a comprehensive eye exam, we can see signs of diabetes, high blood pressure and hypertension, arteriosclerosis and high cholesterol. These have detrimental effects on the eye and on all parts of the body. Prevention is key because once significant damage is done, there is a limit of what can be done. These vascular diseases can be controlled by regular trips to your doctor as well as a healthy lifestyle.
As time goes on, research confirms that there are many benefits to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and fewer sugary and processed foods. Your eyes and overall health will be better if you decrease the amount of inflammation caused by poor nutritional choices, smoking and lack of exercise. One side of our health that we cannot control is our genetics. However, based on our genetic makeup, we know that certain vitamins will benefit or have detrimental effects based on the alleles we possess. Thanks to the amazing technology of our time, we have access to genetic tests that can give you a snapshot of your personalized recommendations. At Springfield Family Vision we have one that is affordable and helps you to be your own nutritional genius. Please talk to you doctor, dietitian, nutritionalist, or ask us at your next appointment if you would like to know more.