Take care of your vision for higher quality of life

HALIT YEREBAKAN, MD
ISTANBUL
Published 24.09.2017 19:57
Updated 24.09.2017 19:58
Take care of your vision for higher quality of life

The eyes may be the gateway to the soul, but they are also a window to bodily health, requiring tender, loving care or ‘TLC'

The eyes are one of the most important organs of the body and have a profound effect on our daily lives. For those who have proper vision, it may be easy to forget the miraculous function of this small pair of organs. However, our eyes and their mechanisms are very sensitive and numerous factors, ranging from dietary choices to environmental factors and optical care, have a direct impact on eye health. Common diseases such as high cholesterol, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, retinal migraines and xerophthalmia (chronic dry eye) can also have an effect on eye health, making it important to take care of the "windows to the soul."

High cholesterol

One of the most common ailments among high cholesterol sufferers is cataracts. Cataracts, or abnormal growths on the eye, cause impaired or blurry vision and usually require surgery. More notably, high cholesterol can cause loss of vision, resulting in symptoms such as severe eye pain, sensitivity to bright light and the formation of yellow spots in the eyes which are also symptoms of high cholesterol.

Thyroid problems

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ in the human body which regulates growth and metabolic hormones in the body. An improperly functioning thyroid can cause swelling of the eye muscles, causing the eyes to appear swollen. If swelling persists, the eyelids retract and more serious disorders can develop, along with dryness of the eye.

Diabetes

Even if you think your eyes are functioning properly, it is imperative to undergo routine eye examinations yearly, especially if you are diabetic or are at risk of developing the illness, as diabetes can cause swelling in the macular region of the eye in a disease known as retinopathy, affecting the retina that controls the center of the eye. Scientific studies have shown that 40 percent of diabetic patients experience eye tension, while 60 percent of patients get cataracts. Since diabetes is a disease that affects the light-sensitive part of the eyes, it is important for diabetic patients to be aware of the risks associated with diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal migraine

If you see temporary blind spots, you may be suffering from eye migraines, which are different from typical migraine headaches. Retinal migraines cause empty spots in vision, known as scotomas. This "temporary blindness" can last a few minutes or happen instantaneously. Other symptoms of retinal migraines include headaches, blurred vision and fatigue of the eyes. Eye muscle control should be monitored and detailed examination may be required.

Chronic dry eye

Dry eye is caused by the lack of moisture that develops as a result of the eyes' inability to produce enough tears. According to the study conducted by the National Eye Institute, this ailment is known as xerophthalmia and especially effects post-menopausal women. Since our eyes produce less tears with age, failure to provide a suitable environment for tear production in the eyes can lead to certain symptoms such as burning, stinging, itching, redness, scratching and tearing of the eye. These symptoms can also occur due to air pollution and seasonal allergies. Contact lens use, eye surgery, heart problems, ulcers and chemotherapy drugs can also cause eye dryness, in addition to environmental factors such as frequent computer use, heat, air conditioning and harmful exposure to sunlight.

If you want to keep your eyes as healthy as possible, there are few things to keep in mind.

Apply a hot compress

If your eyes develop dryness, try to place a clean, warm, moist compress on your eyelids for two or three times a day for five-to-10 minutes. Moist heat calms dry eyes and stimulates the development of tears.

Use an eye ointment

In cases where the eye dryness becomes unbearable, you can apply ointment to your eyes before sleeping. The most important point here is that ointment should be recommended by your ophthalmologist. Using the wrong ointment may cause permanent damage in your eyes. Many eye ointments contain mineral oil and the effects last as long as ordinary drops. To apply ointment, lower the lower eyelid, look up and leave a drop of ointment between the lid and your eye. Do not use your hand to spread the ointment, as this can cause your eyes to become infected. Blinking several times will help spread the ointment around in your eye. Since ointments can blur your vision for a while, it is recommended that you apply ointment before sleeping.

less tıme wıth screen Being in front of a computer all day can cause serious problems related with your eyes. It is recommended that you take a one-minute break for every hour you spend in front of the computer. The most common break strategy is to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and to stay 20 feet away from the computer screen.

Avoid the air conditionerDirect contact with hot or cold air can cause xerophthalmia of the eye. Therefore, protect your eyes from direct contact with air conditioners by avoiding active air vents at home, at work and in your car.

Quit smoking

Cigarette smoke causes the blood vessels in your eyes to contract, which will result in dry eye. When your body perceives dryness and lack of blood flow, it tries to compensate by expanding your blood vessels. This causes redness, also known as bloodshot eyes.

Consume fish

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have a range of health benefits such as preventing memory loss, delaying the signs of aging, and being heart- and cholesterol-friendly. These oils also prevent inflammation in the body and relieve dryness of the eye. Salmon, sardines, herring and also flax seeds or walnuts are recommended. Vegetable oil is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Get proper sleep

Your eyes should get rest for a minimum of five hours each night. When you do not get adequate sleep, your eyes work harder than necessary and, therefore, feel tired. Studies show that inadequate sleep is among the main causes of eye spasms. When your body is not rested, redness, tiredness and a stinging sensation in the eyes can also occur in what are known as "next-day" symptoms after lack of sleep.

What to eat?

Consume foods that are rich in Vitamin A to promote eye health. Vitamin A has miraculous effects in terms of eye health. It enhances visual quality, protects the cornea, brightens the pupil's surface and minimizes the effects of eye diseases such as night blindness, glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. We have all heard that carrots are good for our eyes since childhood. And yes - this is true. Carrots can help protect your eyesight because of the vitamins these vegetables contain. Are the vitamins your eyes need only found in carrot? Of course, not. Spinach, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and eggs are also rich in vitamin A.

Vitamin C is crucial

Vitamin C is one of the vitamins that is of known, critical importance for our bodily health. The most well-known benefit of Vitamin C is that it strengthens the immune system and helps protect the body from various diseases such as flu and the common cold. For this reason, consumption of foods containing Vitamin C increases with the arrival of the winter months. Studies conducted in recent years have shown that Vitamin C helps protect against stress-related diseases and even reduces the risk of paralysis. On the same note, the effects of this miracle vitamin on eye health should not go unnoticed. Studies have shown that Vitamin C reduces the risk of cataract formation. As it is known, cataracts are a geriatric eye disease. For this reason, especially after turning 40, it is important to nourish the body with Vitamin C. When it comes to vitamin C, consuming oranges, lemons and similar acidic fruits comes to mind. While these are very rich in Vitamin C, green peppers, strawberries and green leafy vegetables are among the foods rich in Vitamin C, as well.

olive oil & leafy greens

Age-related macular degeneration (also known as Yellow Spot disease), which is caused by progressive age and exposure to direct sunlight, is an eye disease that starts with reading difficulties and progresses to distorted vision, causing objects to appear deformed and wavy. Studies have shown that it is possible to reduce (or even slow down) the effects of this disorder, which is unfortunately impossible to cure. When it comes to this disease, the miracle that comes to mind is lutein. It is widely known that the effects of lutein are increased when taken along with Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium. Lutein, which is abundantly found in dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, can also be found in avocados. Studies have shown that consumption of dark, leafy greens dressed in olive oil can also improve the body's absorption of lutein.

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