QUIZ: Are You Eating For Healthy Eyes?
Sunglasses and summertime go together like, well, sunglasses and summertime! Even if it’s only for fashion, you’re still protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays. But what about those times when you’re out of the sun and absorbing blue light from computer and smartphone screens? Blue light can harm eyes and negatively impact overall health, particularly sleep quality. Protecting your eyes from the inside is equally important and it starts with what you eat.
“The things that make us healthy from a physical standpoint and protect us from heart disease and diabetes turn out to be the exact same things that protect our eye health,” said Dr. Kim Reed, professor of optometry at the Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry and founder and director of the Ocular Nutrition Clinic at Nova Southeastern University’s Eye Care Institute, in a recent interview with BlackDoctor.org.
Although it’s statistically much more common for eye diseases to affect the elderly than young people, Dr. Reed stresses that failing eyesight isn’t something that should automatically be accepted as just another fact of getting older. “Let’s say your family has a strong history of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, does that mean you’re inevitably going to fall into that pattern? Absolutely not. Even though you may have a predisposition, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do things and take steps to protect yourself from those diseases.”
The foods we eat act as a type of “sunscreen” for our eyes, says Dr. Reed. “To date, the best information we have from the science is that there is this one particular substance that is the most protective in your eye and it is called lutein, and that is the nutrient that’s in green leafy such as spinach and kale and collards and turnips greens and swish chard and things that look and feel like that. If we have a lot of that in our diet it will deposit itself in many body tissues including the retina in our eye and it acts like a sunscreen.” Having enough lutein in the eyes can help protect you from damage or potential damage that’s occurring with blue light from electronic devices.
In addition to adding more dark, leafy greens to your daily diet and limiting processed foods, the single most important thing you can do for your eyes, according to Dr. Reed, is to not smoke. The second most important thing is to maintain body weight and not carry around excess fat tissue “because it’s toxic to many body systems, including eyes.”
So, how well are you protecting your eyes? Dr. Reed developed an eye quiz because many people are misinformed about their eye health. Eating a lot of carrots, or having a salad for lunch every once in awhile isn’t enough to protect your eyes.
Take the quiz on the next page to see if your lifestyle habits are on point for good eye health, and learn what you can do to get – or keep – your eyes healthy for years to come.