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Even before lifting your head from the pillow, your ever-vigilant eyes are opened to glance at the clock and give you a yay or nay whether you can sleep 5 more minutes. They hang out with you through an entire day, enabling you to experience many of the joys that contribute to your rich and meaningful life. In fact, it is estimated that 90% of what we learn during our lifetime is learned through use of the eyes. Wouldn’t it be a terrible mistake to take the health of your hard-working eyes for granted? Instead learn how you can help protect them into age ninety and beyond.
Seven Suggestions for Sight
• Eat spinach or other greens like collards and kale several times a week since they contain lutein, an antioxidant that greatly benefits the health of the eye’s macula. Be sure to eat these foods with a bit of olive oil to help better absorb them. One cup of raw spinach or ½ cup of cooked spinach provides 6 mg of lutein.
• Massage temples and pinch the skin between your brows to relax eyes and improve circulation.
• Cook with red onions instead of yellow since they have significantly more quercetin. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that may benefit age-related eye concerns.
• Always wear sunglasses in bright sunlight. If you experience even a hint of a squint, get out the shades, and make sure they filter out the maximum amount of ultraviolet light.
• Blink regularly to cleanse, lubricate and de-stress the eyes.
• Some ophthalmologists recommend periodically covering your eyes with the palms of your hands to rest them. Practice this eye-break three times each day for 10 seconds each time.
A Twinkle in Your Eyes
Eyes that appear slightly moist look bright and healthy. Yet everyday activities and even the foods we eat can dry up that sparkle. Dry eyes respond well to supplements of evening primrose oil or borage oil thanks to their content of gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is the precursor to prostaglandin E-1, a substance that is necessary for the secretion of tears, and supplementing with GLA has been found to support tear production. Also drink plenty of plain bottled water to keep your eyes hydrated, and stay far from beverages or other foods sweetened with aspartame, which has a drying effect on eyes.
The Triple Crown of Vision Health
1. Lutein — You can read this web page thanks to your macula, which is part of the retina. The #1 supplement for supporting the health of this central part of the eye is lutein, and the optimal dose is 20 mg.
2. Bilberry — Bilberry is the vision herb for all types of eye concerns. It aids in the regeneration of visual purple in the retina, which helps the eye adapt to low-density light (night vision), plus it improves delivery of oxygen and blood to the eyes, which is critical to vision health. It also strengthens collagen in the tiny capillaries that feed the eyes, and it offers strong antioxidant support for the entire eye. Aim for 320 mg of a formula standardized for 25% anthocyanidins each day.
3. Zeaxanthin — Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid and antioxidant that is concentrated in the macula of the eye along with lutein. Most people do not consume enough of the foods that contain it (spinach and kale), so supplementation is helpful. Try to get 880 to 1000 mcg (1 mg) per day.
"Science indicates that lutein’s function in the eye’s macula (a small spot in the retina responsible for central vision) is the same as in plants: to filter out harmful, high-energy, blue wavelengths of visible light that can damage cells and tissues. Supplements using purified, crystalline lutein under the FloraGLO® name contain lutein identical to the lutein found in dark green leafy vegetables... Lutein also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells by quenching free radicals."
Dr. Robert Abel, Jr., of Delaware Ophthalmology Consultants, is the author of The Eye Care Revolution and is an advisor to the Lutein Information Bureau.
Supplement Program of the National Eye Institute
The National Eye Institute sponsored a major study that ended in 2001, and the researchers concluded that five key nutrients were beneficial to eye health. The participants in the study took the following amounts of each nutrient for an average of 6.3 years. To read more about the study, visit National Eye Institute
• Beta-Carotene — 15 mg, which is equivalent to 25,000 IU. Beta-carotene is different from vitamin A, however. Although the body makes vitamin A from beta-carotene, supplements of vitamin A (retinol palmitate or acetate) should not exceed 10,000 IU per day.
• Vitamin E (Natural) — 400 IU
• Vitamin C — 500 mg
• Zinc — 80 mg
• Copper — 2 mg