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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Protecting Your Vision Long-Term: The Joy of Seeing Life

Jan 01, 2020 12:00AM ● By Cassandra Rose

Eye Health

When we think of growing into our silver years, we think of independence, choices we didn’t have time for when we were younger and being strong enough to enjoy it all. To be able to embrace this path, we must consider our eye health. There are some thoughtful ways to care for ourselves in general that will also benefit the eyes: Exercise, hydration and nutrition are key to any health goals.

One sweat a day. This is the minimum amount of exercise needed for eye health. In particular, we are talking about getting our hearts pumping. Cardiovascular exercise will increase the circulation in the eyes. Increased circulation brings with it extra nutrients and takes away any toxic buildup from cellular metabolism. It is also one big piece of the puzzle in maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugar.

In addition to cardio, there are strength-building exercises for your eyes that can help prevent presbyopia (age-related vision loss). There are a number of programs that can be easily found online, including the popular Bates Method. Eye exercises often involve quickly changing focus from near and far, following object to the edges of your vision, and more. Like all muscles, the eye muscles benefit from regular and deliberate exercise.

Another piece of this puzzle is hydration. When we are properly hydrated, we flush out toxins and our organs stay in tiptop shape, including our eyes. Think about the physiology of your eye: It is filled with fluids to help refract the light in just the right way. When that balance is off, your eyesight is strongly affected. Hydration is just as important as proper nutrition.

When we think about nutrition for our eyes, we can all hear the story about carrots helping us see in the dark. This is not without merit. Carrots are high in vitamin A, as are all orange and yellow vegetables. That is only part of the story. The stars of the show are dark leafy greens. The World Cancer Research Fund published a paper in 2007 about eating a variety of brightly colored vegetables and its effects on cancer. It, unsurprisingly, has a huge impact. What is interesting for us to consider at this moment is the impact of leafy greens on the retina. It was found that these foods high in antioxidants protect the eye from sun damage. These nutrients function as sun filters in the plant and provide that same protection in our eyes.

This leads us into the choices that we can make specifically for our eyes. One of the main things to avoid is overexposure to light. Whether this is sunlight or light from a screen, it is hard on the retina. Wearing quality sunglasses with brown or yellow tints having UV filters that won’t rub off quickly is your best protection from the sun. For screens, there are many programs that help to shift the light from the blue spectrum into the yellow spectrum. The yellow light is much easier on the eye. It is also key to take a break every 30 to 60 minutes—even five minutes an hour can make a big difference in long-term eye health.

As with many human things, we must strike a balance. We benefit from some unfiltered daylight exposure. It helps to regulate sleep patterns, hormonal patterns and mood. However, in studies published in 2004 and 2017 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, we see that constant exposure to blue light does a great deal of damage to eyesight. We especially see a rise in glaucoma and dry eye with constant computer usage.

Now that we have found our middle ground with light, we can talk about herbs, a favorite topic of discussion. There are a number of easy to come by herbs that have great benefit. In a study from 2011, in Neuroradiology, ginkgo biloba was found to be a selective cerebrovascular dilator and increased circulation to the back of the eye. This has implications in its benefit for dry macular degeneration in particular. After all, we already talked about the benefits of good circulation. In 2014, in Visual Neuroscience, saffron was found to improve flicker sensitivity in early macular degeneration by protecting and benefiting the photoreceptors. It improved the ability to see light. Along with saffron and ginkgo biloba, there are a couple of other very important herbs to consider. Bilberry helps to improve night vision. Chrysanthemum and eyebright soothe irritation and help reduce inflammatory stress on the eyes. These last two are particularly good to use as compresses on the eyes for any irritation.

Another way to reduce irritation and overall benefit the eyes is acupressure. These techniques are easy to do on yourself. There is an acupuncture point called Gallbladder 37, located on the outside of your lower leg about five inches above the tip of your outer ankle bone. Images of this point are easy to find online. The ideal massage would be 30 small circles with a thumb or small, smooth tool in each direction, two times a day. This point is a traditional point for eye health. When needled during an fMRI, the imaging showed increased brain response in the vision-related cortex.

Massaging directly on the bones surrounding the eyes on a daily basis is also helpful. A gentle lifting and pinching technique is useful in this area. Just be gentle so as not to bruise your delicate eye tissues. Closing with a brief visualization is a wonderful way to build your relationship with your eyes. Rub your palms together until they are warm. Place them over your eyes. Visualize your eyes working in perfect order and seeing the life you want to lead.

If you are interested in learning more about eye health, a good book to pick up is Natural Eye Care: Your Guide to Healthy Vision and Healing, by Marc Grossman, OD, L.Ac and Michael Edson, MS, L.Ac.

With a few simple, healthy choices, you can help yourself to keep your best possible vision, live life to the fullest, enjoy every moment and take in all the joy of maturity.

Cassandra Rose, L.Ac.

 Cassandra Rose is a licensed acupuncturist specializing in macular regeneration, a program that benefits degenerative eye diseases, including macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, dry eye and more. To learn more, visit


Cassandra Rose LAc

Cassandra Rose, L.Ac. - Edina, MN

Cassandra Rose, L.Ac. is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist with a specialty in Macular Regeneration. Macular Regeneration is a program that uses Acunova and Micro-Acupuncture, t... Read More »