Moment for Health: The Eyes Have It

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If eyes are the windows to the soul, then it’s the soul that is gazing out into the world, delighting in all the wonderful colors, shapes and forms.

And though it is not necessary to walk this world with sight, the blind just as skillful interpreting the space around them; the ability to build our world through vision is a beautiful thing.

How does one describe the color purple as it bursts forth from an African violet or the color orange as it sits and spreads across the horizon of a California sunset? With sight, we are truly blessed at witnessing the moving story of life.

Like all the other parts of our body we treat kindly with good health, the eyes must be given its share of concern and attention. The minute we wake up, our eyes are open throughout the day until night when sleep closes our eyes shut.

Lashes 2There are four common eye diseases that occur later in life: cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Visiting the eye doctor is essential. Diseases such as glaucoma where abnormally high pressure within the eye can lead to blindness is caught in time and prevented when the eye is examined.

Lifestyle habits are essential to eye health. Don’t smoke tobacco. It damages the eyes by generating free radicals and increasing the risk of arterial disease. Eyes are nourished by blood vessels so heart and vascular health is very important.

Wearing sunglasses outside helps protect the eye from UV light that can damage several structures in the eye. Keeping blood sugar normal saves the eye from cataracts and damage to delicate blood vessels in the retina, a light-sensitive layer in the back of the eye that makes us see.

Stay at an optimum body weight to avoid inflammation, high blood pressure, arterial disease and diabetes. These are all healthful tools to keep the eyes working splendidly.

Look to foods to provide the body with the right nutrients and protection to keep the eyes functioning for a long time.

Beta-carotene in carrots has been associated with good eyesight, but good eye health is more than just eating these orange veggies. More and more people understand the value of leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards, all of which provide antioxidants in the form of carotenoids that lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

The yellow color in carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin filter out damaging blue and ultraviolet light. Other great greens to include are winter squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green peas, and pumpkins. Eat your greens, as mom always used to say.

Lovely red, purple and blue pigments in berries provide flavonoids which are potent antioxidants and blood-vessel strengtheners. Bilberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries and pomegranates are wonderful sources to include in the diet.

Eating fish gives the body omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) for good retinal health. Fish that is responsibly fished and low in toxic mercury is Alaskan wild salmon, Atlantic mackerel and Pacific sardines.

And in this age of computers and smartphones, give the eyes a break every 20 minutes by looking away from the screen. Focusing on objects about 20 feet away during the rest stretches the eye muscles for less strain.


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