Eye Health wasn’t on my radar, other than the annual visits to the eye doctor for more contacts. I think that’s how it goes for different health issues. We don’t really think about them until we are older or experience them directly. But, being aware of how we live now and taking preventative measures is something our older bodies will be thanking us for later in life. That’s why I changed the way I approach eye health.
Blue light caught me by surprise. For the full scoop on Blue Light check out our recent blog post. * I hadn’t heard much about blue light. It’s ironic since I spend the majority of my time looking into the computer screen at work. Take a moment and think about how many hours you spend in front of a screen. How many was it? 8 hours today for me!
My first reaction was to save my eyes and ditch the screens. But, with the nature of my job and my commitment to watching The Voice, I realized I can’t completely escape the screens. After a little research, I realized there are steps I can take to support my eye health and you’re welcome to join in, too!
1. Give your eyes a break.
Take a moment to get away from the screens. It’s recommended to take a 20 second break from looking at a screen every 20 minutes, if you are on the computer all the time for work (1). That’s a short-term solution, but I think we can go deeper. We need to take a hard look at how much screen time we are accustomed to consuming and make a conscious decision to limit that exposure. What to do instead, you ask? Go outside and adventure, have a face to face conversation, throw a dinner party, learn an instrument, go on a walk or run, play some board games. Let’s give our eyes a break. What do you say?
Ok, one more thing! I am notorious for this one. Spending time on my iPhone before bed…a little Instagram, reading a few news articles, finding a few new recipes on Pinterest. Did you know that blue light suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin? This creates a sense of wakefulness that distorts our sleep patterns and to top it off, may cause strain on our eyes. That said, stay off the screens at least a half an hour before you head to bed.
2. Bring on the Lutein, Astaxanthin and Zeaxanthin.
What does eye health have to do with these three words I can hardly pronounce? More than you think. Our eyes needs antioxidants and these three are here to help. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are carotenoids that provide our best defense against blue light. On top of that, they lessen inflammation in the macula. As I did a little more research, I discovered that Lutein is like sunscreen for your eyes. It protects the retina from damaging natural lights. Astaxanthin is also a powerful carotenoid that supports against oxidative stress in the retina (2).
When it comes to our remedy formulas, we like to go big or go home. Barlean's Eye Remedy includes grape seed extract that supports night vision capabilities and protects against cataracts. In addition, we added blueberry extract because it is proactive against age-related eye deterioration and protects against light-induced eye damage. And since we are big fans of Omega-3s, we included EPA/DHA into the formula to protect your eye health.
3. Eat for your eyes.
Since diving into eye health a little more, I realized eye health friendly foods extend beyond carrots. The only way to obtain the antioxidants your eyes need is through your diet. I investigated what I would need, so the next time I am at the store I know what to buy. a. Fruits like mangoes, grapefruits and oranges. Oh, and berries too! They are packed full of Vitamin C. b. Leafy Greens—shout out to kale, spinach and collard greens! Since we are talking about green, don’t forget the broccoli. These guys are rich in antioxidants. c. Protein—salmon, shrimp and egg yokes! A side note about salmon: It’s full of Omega-3s (4). d. Look for bright orange colors because it has the pigment beta-carotene that your body will convert to vitamin A. Another idea is sweet potatoes or squash!
Just like the image above, combine some eye healthy ingredients for lunch tomorrow!
4. Think twice before smoking
Smoking increases your chances of getting cataracts, optic nerve damage and macular degeneration. Macular Degeneration is another medical term that doesn’t mean a ton to the average person. Let’s break it down. Basically, this causes vision loss and is the leading cause of blindness later in life (5). Get the bad chemicals out of your system and think about ways to quit smoking.
5. Wear sunglasses
The ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause damage to the eyes over time. No better time than the present to protect your eyes with a pair of sunglasses. Look for glasses that protect against 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays (5)
And, that’s a wrap. You’ve worked hard learning about eye health. You deserve a smoothie packed full of nutrients to support your eyes.
Barlean's Eye Remedy Smoothie:
¾ c coconut milk ¾ c Greek yogurt Small handful of berries 1 c ice ¼ c carrots ¼ c mangoes
Mix together and blend until smooth. Enjoy :)
* The frequency called Blue Light is part of the ultra-violet spectrum, but unlike the UVA and UVB frequencies, it penetrates much deeper into our eyes—all the way to the area of our retina that is called the macula. This is the area responsible to provide us with high-acuity vision.