Does food intake affect your eyesight?
Are you aware of a blind spot in your vision? Does the blind spot come and go?
from Longbeach Eye Studio
Is it a coincidence that Healthy Lifestyle Awareness Month comes in February, a month after we have made, and probably forgotten, our resolutions and good intentions to be proactive about living healthier? It is not a coincidence that general good health and well-beingimpacts directly on eye health.
The eyes are not only the windows to the soul, but are often the windows to general physical health. Eye health is directly linked to serious chronic conditions, including diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. Comprehensive eye exams can detect these, and can help prevent permanent vision loss. Look at these simple “true/false” statements to find out about overall health and eye health.
1. Good eye health starts with the food on your plate. True or false?
TRUE – a well-balanced diet rich in certain nutrients helps to protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, while maintaining a healthy weight lowers the chances of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, which is a leading cause of retinal disease.Balance is key to a healthy diet, which entails eating a wide variety of foods from the five food groups in the right proportions.
2. An unhealthy diet can cause you to wear glasses. True or false?
FALSE – the need for glasses has nothing to do with the health of your eyes, nor will a change in diet make a difference to your vision. It is a function of the structure of your eyes, a variation in the size, length or shape of the eye or cornea. Some changes that are part of the natural aging process may necessitate the wearing of glasses.
3. Eliminate fatty foods from the diet. True or false?
Partly TRUE but largely FALSE. Eliminating saturated fats that contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol would be beneficial for eye health. On the other hand, unsaturated fats, such as avocados, oily fish and nuts, have many health benefits, which help to lower cholesterol and provide us with essential fatty acids. As well as significantly reducing the risk of developing age-related eye conditions, essential fatty acids can help with dry eye syndrome.
4. Eat more carrots. True or false?
TRUE. Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives carrots their orange hue, helpsthe retina and other parts of the eye to function smoothly. As well as carrots, eat vegetables and fruit of a “rainbow of colours”, as they contain a variety of vitamins and antioxidants which are essential for general and eye health.
5. Decrease your salt intake. True or false?
TRUE. Too much salt raises your blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease, and has a direct impact on the blood supply to the retina. Cut down on processed foods which are high in salt as well as adding less salt to food at the table.
6. Salt in any form is detrimental to eye health. True or false?
FALSE. While not related to general health, cotton wool dipped in a salt solution and applied to the eyelids for 10 minutes reduces puffiness around the eyes, making the eyes look and feel refreshed.
7. Drinking water contributes to general health and eye health. True or false?
TRUE. Maintaining hydration is essential for health, and contributes to the health of the eyes. The eyes are surrounded by fluid, which protects them. It is important to remain well-hydrated and maintain a healthy balance of fluids in the body and the eyes. While water is the best source of hydration, milk, fruit juices, and, in moderation, tea and coffee can add to the daily quota of liquid intake. Avoid too many soft drinks which are high in sugars and low in nutrients.
8. Alcohol is a good source of hydration for the body and the eyes. True or false?
FALSE. As well as dehydrating the body in the short term, in the long term alcohol can affect the internal organs, particularly the liver, causing a drop in the levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps protect against eye disease.
9. Get a regular dose of Vitamin D. True or false?
TRUE, with a cautionary WARNING. Although also found in tuna, salmon, milk and some cereals, the best source of vitamin D is sunshine, as it is manufactured in the body after exposure to the sun. So take advantage of our sunny climate, but do so in moderation, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB light, which can increase the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
10. Smoking is generally unhealthy, but does not affect the eyes. True or false?
FALSE. Of course, it is well-known that smoking contributes towards many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, vascular disease and diabetes. With regard to eye health, it is not simply a matter of “smoke gets in your eyes”, but smoking increases the likelihood of developing cataracts and glaucoma, while poor blood circulation due to compromised blood vessels may lead to macular degeneration and optic nerve damage.
11. Regular exercise is an important element of good health. True or false?
TRUE. Being physically active has multiple benefits, including improving blood circulation, and reducing the risks of cardio-vascular disease and diabetes, both of which contribute directly to eye disease.
12. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. True or false?
Mostly TRUE. Apples are a powerful source of antioxidants and eating them daily can help prevent diseases. Apples also contain vitamin C, which is highly beneficial for the development of collagen in your bones, muscles, cartilage and blood vessels.The apple’s skin has pectin that can lower cholesterol. Apples may be healthy but they will not keep you from visiting your doctor if you do not also exercise regularly, follow a healthy diet, and abstain from smoking and excessive drinking. Don’t keep away from your optometrist – a regular visit to check your vision and eye health is always a good idea!
Friday 17 February is Healthy Lifestyle Awareness Day – make it count!
Your Blind Spot
On the whole, the human eye is an efficient and complex organ which provides us with an accurate picture of the world around us. Light enters the eye by passing through the pupil, ultimately reaching the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye.
The information is then sent via the optic nerve to the brain where it is interpreted. However, there are limitations. Each human eye has a blind spot, an area on the retina without receptors to respond to light, resulting in a “dark spot” where no image is detected.
The optic nerve is a cable made up of many nerve fibres between the eye and the brain. It enters the back of the eye and spreads nerve fibres onto the back of the eye to make up the light detecting cell layer, the retina. The small round spot where this cable enters the back of the eye is called the optic disc. Because there are no light-detecting cells on this disc, there is a very small gap in the visual field of each eye. Most of the time, the visual fields overlap, so that the eyes are able to compensate for each other’s blind spot, and we don’t even notice it. The brain is thought to simply ignore the blind spots, or efficiently fill in the missing information, by drawing on other spatial information as well as memory.
The following simple activity will demonstrate the existence of the naturally occurring blind spot in each eye:
On a piece of paper write the letters R and L boldly about 5cm apart -write
R on the left and L on the right
Next hold the paper about 15cm away from your eyes, and close the left eye;
focus the right eye on the letter R
Slowly move the paper either away from or towards you until the letter
just suddenly seems to disappear
You can repeat the demonstration with the right eye, this time of course
focusing the left eye on the letter L
While a blind spot is a natural phenomenon occurring in everyone’s eyes and we should not notice it at all, there are times when it can be an indication of a problem in the eyes. Are you aware of a blind spot in your vision? Does the blind spot come and go? Does the blind spot move in your field of vision? Do you have any other symptoms, for example, flashing lights that occur when you see the blind spot? Does the blind spot occur in only one eye or do you notice it in both eyes? Does the blind spot only affect your upper or lower visual field? Does it affect only your right or left side?
If you are aware of any of these sensations in your vision, make an appointment to see your optometrist, who will conduct specialised tests to assess your visual field and map your vision to isolate the exact area of the blind spot. He or she may also check your visual acuity, and dilate your pupils with special drops in order to examine your retina. If the blind spot is due to a pathological disorder or condition, it is called a scotoma, from the Greek word to describe darkness.
Some blind spots may be associated with a migraine, while others can be caused by glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, or blockages in the blood vessels supplying the retina. The sooner a scotoma is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin, and the better the prognosis will be.
The natural blind spot also can be found using the red square and blue circle. Cover your left eye and look at the red square. Slowly come closer until the blue circle disappears! Move further in and it reappears again.