Category Archives: eye health

Could turmeric help prevent glaucoma?

Tunnel vision is usually used to describe someone with a narrow point of view. Taken literally however, it can describe the type of vision that results with untreated glaucoma.  With eye injury prevention month coming to a close next week, it seemed right to talk about ways to prevent glaucoma. This is because those with eye injury are at a higher risk of developing this condition.  A recent study has found that turmeric, a natural spice, may be the golden ticket to potentially prevent glaucoma and preserve eye health.

glaucoma, eye, vision, healthWhat is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is not just one eye condition. However, it is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and can cause vision loss and blindness. Research suggests that eye pressure is a major cause of the vision loss caused by glaucoma.

Another risk factor of optic nerve damage, and in turn, glaucoma, is high blood pressure. Even though it may seem unrelated to eat healthy to keep your eye healthy, there are blood vessels in your eye that get their blood flow from the heart. When high blood pressure constricts blood flow, it can cause pressure in the eye. In turn, this can cause vision issues.

Turmeric and glaucoma prevention

When you consider the heart health component of vision health, then turmeric as a preventive treatment makes sense. This is because turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.  Since heart health issues stem from increased inflammation, then turmeric may very well benefit such conditions.

Turmeric is a root plant grown throughout Asia and Central America. It is an important part of ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for inflammatory-related conditions like pain, fatigue, arthritis, and breathing problems.  Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric due to its antioxidant properties which help prevent cell damage that can lead to chronic disease.  Although it is consumed as a spice in foods, turmeric can also be consumed in tablets, capsules, tea, or extracts.

A recent study shows that eye drops containing curcumin may help treat or prevent glaucoma. A rat study found that twice-daily use of the curcumin drops for three weeks helped reduce retinal ganglion cell loss.  In other words, the eye drops helped preserve the cells in charge of delivering visual information from the eye to the brain.  This study suggests that curcumin eye drops may be a treatment or preventive treatment for those at risk for glaucoma upon further study.

How to help eye health

Besides curcumin, there are things you can do today to help improve eye health.

  • Eat right by consuming lots of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables every day.  This will help reduce inflammation in the body and in turn keep your eyes healthy.
  • Keep your weight in a healthy range since obesity can increase risk of diabetes, which can in turn increase risk of vision loss.
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses or other eyewear like goggles or safety glasses. This is because you can prevent eye injury from sports or work accidents if your eyes are protected. Also, shielding your eyes from the UV rays of the sun can reduce eye damage.
  • Quit smoking or don’t start since it can constrict blood vessels. This can in turn negatively affect blood vessel health of the eye and increase risk of eye diseases.
  • Reduce screen time each day since looking at a computer, television, or phone screen too much without taking a break can put strain on the eyes. Therefore, experts suggest taking a break from the screen every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
  • Take a eye health supplement daily like Ocutain by Vita Sciences. Ocutain contains antioxidants such as lutein and beta carotene that can benefit vision health.

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

References:

Boyd, K. (April 13, 2018) “Who is at risk for glaucoma?” American Academy of Ophthalmology Online.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (accessed July 24, 2018) “Turmeric.”

National Eye Institute (September 2015) “Facts About Glaucoma.”

National Eye Institute (accessed July 24, 2018) “Eye Health Tips.”

Science Daily (July 24, 2018) “Turmeric-derived eye drops could treat glaucoma: study.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


  • Could a Cup of Tea a Day Lower Your Glaucoma Risk?

    tea, antioxidant, healthOn a cold winter’s day there is nothing better than a hot cup of tea to warm you up.  Depending upon the type of tea you consume, this warm beverage could provide you with a variety of different antioxidants to help benefit your health. In fact, a recent study has shown that a cup of hot tea every day may help reduce glaucoma risk.

    What is Glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is the name for a variety of different eye conditions that involve damage to the optic nerve. Usually caused by an extreme amount of pressure in the eye, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. The most common form of this condition may not present any symptoms until it is too late. Therefore, it is very important to get regular eye check-ups to reduce your risk of eye health issues.

    About Tea

    Tea is a low-calorie beverage that can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  These benefits stem from the presence of the polyphenols epicatechin and catechin in tea. In particular, drinking green tea was shown to help lower LDL cholesterol, higher HDL cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels.

    Tea and Glaucoma Risk

    A recent study looked at the results of a eye exam and nutrition survey of 1700 participants.  Those people that drank tea every day had about a 75-percent less chance of having glaucoma than those who did not.  It is not certain what about tea drinkers makes them at lower risk. However,  this lower risk was only seen in those that drank hot, caffeinated tea.  Consuming decaf tea, cold tea, or either decaf or caffeinated coffee did not show any benefit. It is thought that lower glaucoma risk may be due to the lifestyle factors in those that drank hot tea six times or more per week. More studies will need to be done to identify the direct link.

    Other Ways to Lower Glaucoma Risk

    Besides drinking hot tea, there are several other ways to lower your glaucoma risk.  The researchers suggest that prevention through regular eye exams is key, along with the following lifestyle behaviors.

    • Get your heart health under control. By getting your blood pressure and diabetes under control, you can help decrease your risk of glaucoma.
    • Use treatments as prescribed. Prescribed eye drops or other glaucoma medications can help reduce the risk of complications associated with the condition. In turn, treating such symptoms can prevent or delay the onset of vision problems associated with this condition.
    • Exercise regularly. Walking or engaging in some sort of moderate exercise each day could help reduce the eye pressure related to glaucoma.  Moderate exercise may include swimming, biking, aerobics, dancing, or anything that quickens your breathing without getting you out of breath.
    • Wear eye protection. Be sure to wear sunglasses or goggles in the sunlight or when  using any power tools or engaging in any high-speed racket sports. This is because when you reduce your risk of eye injuries, you also help reduce glaucoma risk.
    • Take eye-healthy supplements.  Ocutain by Vita Sciences contains a combination of eye-healthy compounds such as lutein and beta carotene, which promote healthy vision. Such supplements, along with a heart healthy diet may help lower your risk of eye conditions such as glaucoma.

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

    Sources:

    Cochran, N. (January 12, 2017) “The Health Benefits of Tea”

    Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (August 2014) “Tea: A Cup of Good Health?”

    Mayo Clinic (September 15, 2015) “Glaucoma”

    Mayo Clinic (May 19, 2017) “Exercise intensity: How to measure it”

    Medline Plus (December 15, 2017) “Could a Hot Cup of Tea Preserve Your Vision?”

     

     


  • 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

     

     


  • 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/


  • 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


  • 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.