Eyesight provides a peek into overall health.
Chances are you, or someone in your immediate family, wear glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision. In fact, more than 63% of adults (166.5 million people) in the U.S. need some sort of vision correction, according to The VisionCouncil, a nonprofit trade association.
When it comes to your eyesight, it turns out eating carrots really is good for you.
“Nutrition is especially important for your eye health,” says Dr. Bret Bodenhamer with Bodenhamer Eye Consultants. “Your eyes have fragile veins, and just like you take care of your heart’s arteries and veins, you should take care of your eyes’ blood vessels as well.”
Bret encourages eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors (green, orange, red, and leafy greens) to supply antioxidants, which support those blood vessels in the eye. It shouldn’t be a surprise that exercise also plays a part in eye health. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking will lower intraocular pressure, which is pressure in your eyes, and they help keep the retinal ganglion cells protected. Cardioexercise also increases blood flow to the optic nerve and the retina, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Bret recommends getting a yearly eye exam to maintain eye health. A critical piece of that exam is getting your eyes dilated, which allows the optometrist to look at the nerves, veins, and tissue to see what is happening inside your eyes. A concerning trend in eye health also involves children. More children are becoming nearsighted at an earlier age, and the amount of screen time children receive plays a big part in that trend. The good news is there are significant technological developments happening in the eye care world.
Recently, scientists have begun using artificial intelligence (AI) and other innovative technologies to predict diseases of the heart, brain, and other organs. These AI and technologies look for patterns within the eyes’ blood vessels and use that information to predict if someone is likely to have a heart attack in the next year.
Dry eye treatments are now way beyond just your standard eye drops. A new remedy called low-level light therapy uses specially designed LED lights on the eyelids to heat up the oil glands of the eyes to then release oils that help keep the eyes healthy. This treatment has become highly effective.
The first prescription eye drops to treat age-related farsightedness were also recently approved by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The once-a-day drops could potentially replace reading glasses for 1.8 billion people around the world in their 40s and 50s.
Contact lenses have gotten an upgrade as well. People who couldn’t wear contacts previously are now able to do so thanks to the advancement of contact lens fittings and materials. The FDA recently approved contacts called Acuvue Theravision that will distribute antihistamines to allergy sufferers. Researchers are also in the process of developing smart contacts to monitor glucose levels in diabetics, monitor vital signs, and help with healing after eye procedures.
“Your eyes have fragile veins, and just like you take care of your heart’s arteries and veins, you should take care of your eyes’ blood vessels as well.”Dr. Bret Bodenhamer
Lasik, a type of refractive surgery that has been around since 1999, is a popular option for vision correction. Roughly 700,000 Lasik procedures are performed each year, according to WebMD. Bret advises that to be a viable candidate for Lasik, the candidate needs to be over the age of 18, have a minimum of two consecutive years with little or no prescription changes, and no eye disease or pathology. He also suggests that people consider what their success with glasses/contacts looks like and if Lasik gives them a better-quality outcome. Unfortunately, if you have an autoimmune disease or issues, especially those with connective tissue issues, Lasik is not a good option.
Bret reminds us that it is never too late to do right by your eyes. You can still affect your eye health in a positive way by eating whole foods, getting good omega-3 fatty acids, exercising, and seeking treatments to help the health of your eyes.