Category Archives: eye health

Could the Solar Eclipse Injure Your Eyes?

With the excitement of the solar eclipse looming, many people are planning on viewing vision, glasses, eclipse, retina, safetythis spectacular event.  However, just as important as where you will be viewing the eclipse is HOW you will be viewing it.  It is important to have the proper eye gear and eye health awareness to prevent the eclipse eye injury.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the sun and the Earth. This moon movement casts a shadow on the Earth. When the moon completely covers the sun, you will see a glowing ring of light peeking out from around the moon. This ring of light is called the corona. It is the corona that can cause damage to your eyes if looked upon without eye protection.

How can the eclipse hurt my vision?

Looking at the corona unprotected can cause damage to cells in the retina. The retina is in charge of sending signals to the brain. Therefore, damage to these retinal cells can cause permanent vision changes.  Such vision changes can range from altered color vision, to distorted vision, to central vision changes. The central vision changes are also known as solar retinopathy or “eclipse blindness.” Eclipse blindness vision changes can include graying of vision as well as permanent blurriness.

The only time you can safely look at the eclipse is when it is in its total state. However, this is usually not for a long period of time. Therefore, as soon as you start to see a glimmer of sun, be sure to put your protective eye gear back on to prevent any retinal damage. You can get a pair of protective eye wear for free at many eye centers and other retailers.

How can I keep my eyes healthy?

If you feel like your vision is changing and you are not sure why, always check with your eye care provider.  Also, there are several other things you can do to make sure you keep your eyes at their healthiest.

  • Know your family’s eye history. You may be at risk for vision problems and not know it.  If you are at risk, you may need more regular visits to the eye doctor to prevent or treat vision issues.
  • Eat a eye-healthy diet. Fruits and veggies such as leafy greens and brightly colored fruits and veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes are great for eye health.  These foods contain beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A, among other things, helps protect the surface of the eye. Along with vitamin A, healthy fats are important for eye health too. Healthy fats like those from nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish have been shown to protect vision.
  • Protect your nerve health. You can protect your vision by protecting your nerve health too.  Nerve health can be damaged by diabetes as well as by smoking.  Uncontrolled diabetes can increase risk of vision loss and glaucoma.  On the other hand, smoking can increase risk of macular degeneration and can constrict blood vessels, which can harm the optic nerve.
  • Keep your eyes clean and protected.  If you wear contact lenses, be sure to use hand hygiene and clean your lenses often to prevent infection of the eye. Also, be sure to wear sunglasses whenever you are outside to protect your eyes from damage. Finally, be sure to limit screen time to prevent drying of the eyes over time. If you work in front of a computer all day, try to take a look away from the screen every 20 minutes to give your eyes a rest.
  • Take eye health supplements.  Supplements such as Ocutain by Vita Sciences can help support eye health. Ocutain contains beta-carotene as well as lutein, which have both been shown to be important nutrients in vision health.

Visit prevention, blindness, vision for more information on how you can protect your eyes.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

All About Vision (March 2017) “Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene: Eye Benefits” http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/vitamin_a.htm

Centers for Disease Control (October 30, 2012) “Eye Health Tips” https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basic_information/eye_health_tips.htm

National Eye Institute (July 24, 2017) “Safely Viewing a Solar Eclipse” https://www.nei.nih.gov/content/safely-viewing-solar-eclipse

Prevent Blindness (accessed August 14, 2017) “Solar Eclipse and Your Eyes” https://www.preventblindness.org/solar-eclipse-and-your-eyes

 

 

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Blindness Rates Predicted to Increase Over Time

You may not realize over 36 million people in the world are blind. In addition, over 200 million more people have moderate to severe vision loss.  A recent study has found that  blindness rates may triple by the year 2050. Therefore, better vision treatment is necessary to prevent theseeye, vision predictions from coming true.

A study from The Lancet Global Health journal looked at vision statistics from 1990 to 2015. Those older adults in sub-Sahara Africa and Southeast Asia have the highest rates of blindness. Although the percentage of the world’s population that is blind fell from .75 to .5-percent from 1990 to 2015, rates are expected to rise.  Aging is the leading cause of blindness in the world.  Since most of the world’s population is reaching older adulthood, rates of blindness are expected to increase.

More funding in vision treatment may prevent many cases of blindness, researchers suggest.  From 1990 to 2010, rates of blindness went down as investments went up in vision treatment.  Outside of funding for vision care, there are many ways you can help protect your eye health. Besides seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis, you can do the following to lower your risk of going blind as you age.

  • Stop smoking or don’t start since smoking constricts blood vessels and can prevent healthy blood flow in the body. This can increase risk of cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye, among other eye conditions.
  • Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables that can support eye health. Foods rich in beta-carotene help to improve vision. This is because beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, which is vital to preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.  Leafy greens like spinach and kale or brightly colored vegetables such as carrots contain beta-carotene. Eating healthy also helps to lower risk of diabetes, which in turn can lower risk of glaucoma.
  • Take eye healthy supplements such as Ocutain by Vita Sciences.  Ocutain contains eye healthy compounds such as bilberry, beta-carotene, as well as lutein. Lutein has shown to help increase density of the pigment in the macula, or center of the retina. This in turn protects the retina from macular degeneration.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

 

Sources:

All About Vision (June 2016) “How Smoking Harms Your Vision” http://www.allaboutvision.com/smoking/

Medline Plus (August 3, 2017) “As World’s Population Ages, Blindness Rates Likely to Grow” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167592.html

Prevent Blindness (accessed August 6, 2017) “Healthy Living, Healthy Vision” http://www.preventblindness.org/healthy-living-healthy-vision

Your Sight Matters “Do Carrots Really Improve Your Eyesight?” http://yoursightmatters.com/carrots-really-improve-eyesight/

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Should yearly vision exams be in your diabetes routine?

Carbohydrate counting, staying active, and checking your blood glucose levels may remind you of the typical diabetes care routine. However, other aspects of diabetes care must not be forgotten. Foot care, dental care, and high cholesterol are just a few other check-ups that are important to diabetes care.

Those with diabetes are at high risk for foot ulcers due to decreased blood flow to the feet caused by diabetes-related nerve damage. Also, those with diabetes are at greater risk vision, eye exam, eye healththan those without diabetes for gum infections. Furthermore, those with diabetes have been shown to have greater blood vessel damage when they have high cholesterol than those without diabetes.

Diabetes and Eye Health

Another important part of diabetes care is regular vision check-ups. This is because those with diabetes are at higher risk for conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy than those without diabetes.  Diabetes-related nerve damage that occurs as a result of uncontrolled blood glucose levels can greatly impact vision health. According to the National Eye Institute, all forms of diabetic eye disease can lead to severe vision loss and blindness.  However, it is diabetic retinopathy that is the most common cause of vision loss among those with diabetes.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. The retina detects light and sends a signals through the optic nerve to the brain. Next, the brain converts this electrical signal to an image.  Uncontrolled diabetes damages vessels of the optic nerve, therefore worsening vision.

When someone has diabetic retinopathy, vessels in the retina swell and leak fluid into the retina. In turn, this fluid distorts vision.  Furthermore, in advanced stages of the disease, scarring of the retina can occur, which can eventually pull the retina away from the underlying tissue, which in turn could lead to blindness.

Diabetes and eye exams

A 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine observed the vision health of 1400 people with Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, over 30 years.  Biannual retinal photographs and general diabetes health reviews were used to assess vision health. From this study, it was determined that in place of yearly vision exams those with a Hemoglobin A1C, or average blood glucose level over three months of:

  • six-percent or less, without signs of diabetic retinopathy, would be safe getting a vision exam once every four years
  • six-percent or less with mild retinopathy should have vision exams ar least once every three years
  • eight to ten-percent should be screened more often than yearly for their vision health

In addition to getting regular exams, everyone, no matter their diabetes status should take steps to maintain vision health.  Consuming  vitamin A-rich foods such as brightly-colored veggies like carrots, peppers, and leafy greens is one way to support retinal health. Furthermore, leafy greens, as well as pistachios, contain the eye-healthy antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that can lower your risk of eye disease. Finally, taking supplements with these eye-healthy nutrients can help you maintain your vision health.

Vita SciencesOcutain contains both lutein as well as beta-carotene, which support eye health. Also, be sure to visit Vita Sciences for other supplements such as Glucarex, which can support healthy blood glucose levels.

Also, be sure to visit the American Optometric Association website for further research and information on ways you can maintain vision health.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Optometric Association (accessed April 21, 2017) “Lutein & Zeaxanthin.” https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/lutein?sso=y

Dreher, M.L. (April 2012) “Pistachio nuts: composition and potential health benefits.” Nutrition Reviews, 70(4):234-40.

Mayo Clinic (December 18, 2014) “Diabetes care: 10 ways to avoid diabetes complications” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-management/art-20045803

Medline Health News (April 19, 2017) “Is Annual Eye Exam a Must for People With Type 1 Diabetes?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164719.html

National Eye Institute (September 2015) “Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease” https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy

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Glaucoma risk lowered by eating more greens

According to the National Eye Health Education Program, glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.  And since there are usually no symptoms in the early stages, early detection is needed to help prevent vision loss.  Therefore, you should be aware that those at most risk for glaucoma are individuals:

  • over the age of 60 years
  • with a family history of the condition
  • who are African American and over the age of 40 years

Prevention

Whether you are at risk or not, it is important to take steps to protect eye health. The Glaucoma Research Foundation suggests the following guidelines for preventing vision loss:

  • Studies have shown that jogging or walking three times a week can lower the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma.  Inverted positions such as headstands can cause intraocular pressure. Therefore, inverted positions should be avoided.
  • Prevent vision loss by getting regular eye exams that will help detect early signs of the condition. Therefore, be sure to get your eyes checked once a year or more often if your eyes become dry, itchy, or if vision concerns arise.
  • Prevent secondary glaucoma by wearing protective eyewear. This is because  trauma to the eye such as in sports or home improvement accidents can lead to this condition.
  • Eating antioxidant-rich foods can be beneficial to eye health and in turn decrease risk of vision loss. Therefore, consume plenty of leafy-green veggies such as broccoli and spinach as well as foods rich in vitamin A such as carrots, peppers, and tomatoes.

Eye Health Research

The Age-Related Macular Degeneration Study (AREDS) is a group of two clinical trials sponsored by the National Eye Institute.  In this study, over 3600 subjects between the ages of 55 and 80 years old with varying levels of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) were observed.  As a result, the study found that lutein, along with zeaxanthin, had beneficial effects on protecting ocular tissues against cell damage.  In addition, high levels of antioxidants and zinc decreased risk of those with intermediate  AMD from developing the advanced disease.

Furthermore,  a 2016 study in Experimental Eye Research looked at the role of endogenous retinoic acid, or vitamin A produced in the body, in corneal health.  As a result, this study revealed the importance of the compound’s role in the signaling in adult corneal homeostasis and regeneration. In addition to these two studies, a 2015 study in the Journal of Opthamology found that lutein and zeaxanthin have protective qualities against damage to ocular tissues and cells.

There is hope  

If you feel like you may be at risk for eye health issues such as glaucoma, and  feel like you may not be getting enough antioxidants through the food you eat, there is an innovative solution. Ocutain supports eye health through its combination of vitamin A, zinc, lutein, and  other eye-healthy elements.   It is never too early or late to start taking control of your eye health.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, so be sure to support research efforts by visiting the Glaucoma Research Foundation at www.glaucoma.org.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Glaucoma Research Foundation (2012 April 25) “Nutrition and Glaucoma”

Glaucoma Research Foundation (2016 May 3) “What Can I Do to Prevent Glaucoma?”

Kumar, S. et al. (2016 Nov 10) “Endogenous retinoic acid signaling is required for maintenance and regeneration of cornea. Experimental Eye Research, pii: S0014-4835 (16) 30449-3.

National Eye Health Education Program (accessed Jan 2017) “Glaucoma Awareness Month” https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/gam

National Institutes of Health (revised Nov. 2011) “The AREDS Formulation and Age-Related Macular Regeneration.” nei.nih.gov/amd/summary

Xue, C. et al. (2015) “Management of Ocular Diseases Using Lutein and Zeaxanthin: What Have We Learned from Experimental Animal Studies?” Journal of Opthamology, 2015:52307.

 

 

 

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