Protecting Your Vision Long-Term: The Joy of Seeing Life
Jan 01, 2020 12:00AM
By Cassandra Rose
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Roselac.com.