The wellness of your vision and prevention of vision deterioration are important to all of you without a doubt. Imagine if you were to completely lose your ability to see at all or if certain parts of your vision system were to malfunction. Dealing with day-to-day living and with the rest of the world would present a whole new set of challenges. Things you take for granted like the color of your socks or paying with a ten dollar bill … or is it a twenty … would require you to rethink essentially everything. But hopefully you don’t have to because you are blessed with the gift of sight.
While some aspects of vision are correctable through surgery or are managed with medications, many other eye diseases/conditions are not correctable at this time.
The focus of this blog is on prevention tactics. Proper maintenance earlier in your life can have huge benefits for how well your vision system operates in your future years. Think of the vision system (eyes, optic nerve, ocular muscles, tear ducts and blood circulation) as an extension of your brain. As such it has many of the same requirements you need to follow for keeping this organ system called vision fully operational for your entire life.
Here are some prevention pointers to follow that help avert some major vision health issues:
- Vegetable and fruits as regular part of daily diet — provide key protective factors (antioxidants). Your eyes, like your brain, are highly active for a major portion of each day (and night in many cases). They convert light rays which are really a form of radiation into electrical energy in the retina. The electrical impulses shoot to your brain via the optic nerve to your vision center in your brain. Your brain processes the information you “see” into images and directs appropriate actions and a multitude of other responses. Ongoing research at the National Eye Institute over decades substantiates the importance of these protective factors to the healthy longevity of your eyes.
- Proper hydration — water. The presence in your body of water is vital to the proper flow of blood throughout the microcirculation that nourishes various eye components. There are links between poor hydration habits over your lifetime with deterioration of the retina as well as the development of glaucoma. Proper water intake (see earlier blogs 9/2011 and 11/2011 accessible in website archives) has a balancing effect upon the ease of flow of the aqueous humor (also known as intraocular fluid) into and out of the front portion of the eye. This ongoing flow is essential for the health of the entire eye. If the flow becomes slows down because the aqueous humor is slightly thicker due to dehydration, the pressure increases in the front of your eyeball. This becomes a risk factor for the development of glaucoma, a condition where the rising intraocular fluid pressure in the front of the eyeball exerts increased backward pressure into the interior of your eyeballs. This elevates pressure on the retina which can become damaged causing potentially irreparable vision loss.
- Sleep and rest — allow your vision system time to recover. Sleep deprivation alters proper brain function. As mentioned earlier, your vision system is part of your brain. Change the focus of your eyes regularly. If you spend a major portion of your waking hours having your eyes fixated on something (e.g. computer screen or sewing), give the muscles that control your eye movements a chance to relax by looking regularly away from your project.
- Other helpful habits — include omega-3s in your diet. These are known to be essential for maintaining the healthy longevity of both your eyes and brain. Time spent in strong sun (large amount of ultra-violet exposure), degree of alcohol consumption (dehydrating effects), and maybe eliminating smoking (can affect blood circulation) are other factors you should evaluate.
- Promote your body’s ability to produce its natural antioxidants — Yes, your body does this and has been doing so for a million plus years. There are processes going on in your body that make these protective factors available for all your body’s trillions of cells including those of your eyes and brain. (These will be discussed in a future blog.)
The health of your eyes (and brain) have strong connections to how well you treat your body. Yes, there are genetic predispositions and tendencies if you look at your family history. However, life habits can bring out the worst of your genetic makeup — if you allow this to happen. ….. Or, as we know in the case of many health issues, good care of your body can keep genetically-based tendencies from happening.