Why rabbits don’t wear glasses…

Well they eat carrots! Everyone knows that right? But what has that to do with glasses and eye sight?

When I attended a training on nutrition and supplements I was surprised to hear that we need specific vitamins and minerals to offset the damaging blue lights we use every day in our technology heavy age. Computer screens, phones, TV, kindles – you get the idea… I’m sitting in front of my laptop right now typing this! And you are doing the same reading this blog! There is no getting away from screens these days really…

The senior editor Gary Heiting of AllAboutVision.com says “No one knows for sure at this point if prolonged use of digital devices actually causes permanent damage to the eyes, but it’s well established that it causes eye strain and discomfort.”

Because they emit HEV light (also called blue light), staring at phone and tablet screens may actually harm our eyes permanently. HEV light is that portion of the visible light spectrum that comprises light with the shortest wavelengths, which carry the greatest potential to damage living tissue. You don’t need to worry about going cross-eyed, but your mum may have had a point about sitting too close to the TV. It may actually harm your eyes. Proximity is definitely a factor in eye strain and HEV light exposure.

Opticians also say that, although “good” blue light (blue-turquoise) is needed to help regulate biological clocks, it is also thought that extensive exposure to blue violet light can disrupting sleep patterns and affect moods.

Although it is not known if there’s a direct link with it creating eye problems, there is strong lab evidence it can potentially do that. Eye strain results from the combination of not blinking enough and bringing the device closer than you normally look at objects.

So what we need are Vitamins A, B2, Zinc and DHA as they are the ones that contribute to normal vision. You’ve probably heard that carrots and other orange-coloured fruits and vegetables promote eye health and protect vision, and it’s true: Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives these foods their orange hue, helps the retina and other parts of the eye to function smoothly and to offset the blue lights from the sun and screens.

So that’s why rabbits have good eye sight. They eat lots of carrots and don’t use iphones…

There was a rather interesting experiment by the BBC’s ‘Trust me I’m a Doctor’ programme. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science had shown that taking a daily supplement can improve your eye sight. So they wanted to test if that is possible with the right food. The supplement the study used contained a mixture of the carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin.

The first two are found naturally in leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach, orange peppers, as well as in the yolk of eggs. Though meso-zeaxanthin may be present in some fish and seafood, it is apparently difficult to get in high quantities in diet and is mainly made in the body itself.

And guess what – the group that had a daily smoothie containing ingredients such as kale and kiwi, over 5 weeks, had a higher level of raised levels of lutein in their blood, but there were no significant improvements in their eyesight. However the group that had the supplement showed an improvement on many levels. Those improvements where only detectable with highly sensitive diagnostic systems, but I would wager that after 12 months you’d probably feel an improvement in your eye sight yourself. If you want to read more about this have a look at this article – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3774768/The-proof-vitamin-pill-really-help-better-TV-s-Dr-Michael-Mosley-tried-himself.html

So where does that leave us – well there are definitely things you can do outside supplementation that help your eye sight. Here are a few key ones I have found on various websites (including the NHS and eye health charities):

  • Maintain a comfortable working distance at the computer (close to arm’s length from the screen) and avoid hunching closer and closer.
  • When using a phone keep the screen as far away from your eyes as comfortably possible — the greater the distance your phone is from your eye, the less eye strain it is likely to cause — provided the print size and images are large enough for comfortable viewing.
  • Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look off into the distance — at something 20 feet away. This is called the “20-20-20 rule” by many eye care providers, and it relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye, relaxes the muscles outside the eyes that converge the eyes (points them inward to stay aligned on near objects), and stimulates blinking to remoisten the surface of the eyes — all comforting things!
  • Get an eye exam. Even minor problems with your eyesight can increase your risk for digital eye strain. If you work with computers regularly at work – they will pay for your eye test!
  • Ask your eye care provider about glasses that block blue light. There are a number of brands of eyeglass lenses and coatings that can reduce your exposure to HEV light when using digital devices.
  • Make sure your eyeglass lenses (if you need them) have an anti-reflective (AR) coating. Eliminating reflections from your lenses can increase viewing comfort and reduce eye strain.
  • Go outside and play more!

And maybe consider supplementing as well as adding foods to your diet that will support your eye health. Eat right to protect your sight. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too.i Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut. Make these foods part of your staple to help your eyes. Other foods good for your eye health are eggs (prime source of lutein and zeaxanthin and zinc), citrus and berries for their antioxidative properties, and almonds and nuts rich in Vitamin E,

Forever Living actually have a supplement called Forever Vision which contains Vitamin A (from plant sources by the way, so safe in pregnancy)and  Zinc as well as bilberry, lutein and zeaxanthin…

So what am I taking away from this. Well I already take a daily supplement of vitamins as well as our fishoil supplement (because I don’t eat fish). So that’s that part covered. But I will look into the cost of our vision supplement, as my eye sight is pretty poor. And maybe it is worth committing to taking them for a year and then revisit this blog… What do you reckon?

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