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For healthy eyes, take the long view

Published On: May 07 2013 03:05:09 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 22 2013 02:45:34 PM CDT
Senior's eye

iStockPhoto / tbradford

By Claude Lewis, Pure Matters

Renowned retina specialist Stephen H. Sinclair, M.D., has taught eye surgery to ophthalmologists around the globe. But when it comes to keeping eyes healthy, he says, much of the focus is on you.

"It would be difficult to overstate how important it is that patients respect their eyes," says Dr. Sinclair, who practices in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Luckily, there's a lot you can do to head off eye problems. "If we follow basic rules of health, we can usually avoid long-term disabilities," Dr. Sinclair says. Here are some tips:

  • Eat right, stay at a healthy weight and exercise. Eye doctors back a diet that helps control blood pressure and blood sugars and helps maintain a healthy weight. Dr. Sinclair also tells patients to stay fit and avoid the types of fast food that can fuel obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Any of these conditions can reduce blood flow to the macula (the center of the retina at the back of the eye). The health of the macula depends on a good supply of blood.
  • Don't smoke. Most ophthalmologists agree smoking is bad for your eyes. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop cataracts (a clouding of the lens) and macular degeneration.
  • Get an annual diabetes checkup. Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness, the American Diabetes Association says.
  • Add kale, spinach and broccoli to your diet. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in these and other leafy vegetables may help head off macular degeneration, says Maz Kazahaya, M.D., chief of the division of ophthalmology at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa.
  • Eat more fish and nuts. They may help lower your risk for advanced macular degeneration.
  • Wear sunglasses. Look for a pair that blocks ultraviolet A, ultraviolet B and blue rays.
  • Get eye exams as recommended by your eye care provider to detect conditions early.

See the eye doctor if you have:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Pain in your eyes or pressure behind your eyeballs
  • Difficulty reading signs and books or the loss of peripheral (side) vision
  • Flashes of light or floating debris that blocks your vision
  • Wavy lines when you should be seeing straight lines
  • Any sudden change in your vision

Source: Pure Matters