ABC of Healthy Eyes: by Dr Damiana Corca
The most complex organ besides the brain, the eyes diligently serve us as the most sophisticated camera that ever existed. For example, our eyes can see more than 10 million color hues and record over 24 million images over a lifetime.
As we age, our whole visual system undergoes changes and usually around the age of 45 many people become aware of some pathological changes. Menopausal women experience a quite bothersome dryness while elderly adults even have difficulty in raising their eyes up.
Glasses are definitely a solution but how about some of the age related diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Moreover, how about the young or middle-aged people working all day long at the computer, thus putting a tremendous strain on the ocular muscles. When the average blinking is about 10.000.000 times a year, it is not a matter of proving that the eye muscles are one of the most active in the body, but rather how to exercise them properly in order to have healthy eyes for our whole life.
Looking at ways of improving the health of the visual system and most importantly working on the prevention side is my goal for the rest of this article. Prevention might sound overrated but I need to warn you – do take it seriously, not only when it comes to eyesight but in any aspect of your health. It might seem like something that you need to think about in the near future but you know that the “future” is already here. The conclusion? Start right now because the decisions you are taking today enable you to live healthier and ultimately happier.
Let’s get going starting with a nutritional overview, followed by the helpful aids that Chinese medicine has for us, such as herbs and acupressure, and finish up with more tips such as homeopathic eye drops, and why not, some fun exercises.
This food source is one of the best choices when it comes to trying to improve your eyesight. Kale contains a great amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients per serving that can greatly help your visual system.
Deficiency of beta-carotene (Vitamin A) may lead to night blindness and an increased chance of inflammation and irritation of the eye. Some of the best sources of beta-carotene are carrots, broccoli, mango, and quite unusual – sweet potatoes have very high amounts of this vitamin. How about supplements you might ask? As a general rule, I do not recommend taking any supplements unless prescribed by a health care provider. Why? Because you need to make sure that you really need that particular vitamin and secondly because there could be side effects that you might not be aware of.
Right amounts of omega-3 fatty acids incorporated in your diet can help prevent eye dryness and many of the age related diseases, especially macular degeneration. Some of the greatest sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish, eggs, flax seeds and chia seeds. The plant sources might seem like a healthier choice, however they are harder to assimilate as compared to the animal sources.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
As a rule of thumb, remember yellow and green colors. Two of the most important nutrients that are very valuable for eyesight are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are commonly found in yellow and green foods. Bottom line, if you eat your 5 servings of vegetables each day you cannot go wrong!
Ayurvedic medicine prizes ghee as one of best foods to be added to one’s daily diet. Wondering what ghee is? Nothing else than clarified butter! You can either prepare this yourself at home or buy it from a health food store. Among its many benefits, ghee nourishes the visual system when taken internally but also externally as a compress.
Acupuncture can be very useful for many eye problems but how about a daily routine that you can do anywhere by yourself. Upon wakening and before going to sleep, press in a rotating manner on the four points from the picture for 20 seconds on each particular point, on both sides – pay attention not to scratch your face or put too much pressure. In addition, you may use this acupressure technique even at work when your eyes feel too tired to do their job for the day. You will often feel tenderness when you press on them, many times as a sign that you really need those addressed. However, when self-therapy is not enough, a licensed acupuncture physician can go to a deeper level by diagnosing and treating with acupuncture the appropriate pattern that is showing on each individual.
Goji berries are commonly used therapeutically in herbal formulas but can also be used as a daily snack to strengthen your eyes. Chinese herbal formulas can be very effective when prescribed by a licensed practitioner, again, because doing a proper diagnosis and treating YOU, rather than the eye problems in general, is really the key. Generally, the formulas are reinforced to treat the root of the problem for long-term results.
Gazing at the stars is a great eye exercise, both cooling and strengthening. Another wonderful way of strengthening your eyes and quieting your mind is to gaze at the flame of a candle for 20 minutes. In addition, when working for long hours at the computer, look at a distant wall or object once in a while to shift the amount of strain on the eye. A very simplest but extremely effective trick is to move the eyes from left to right, from top to bottom, diagonally from bottom left to top right, diagonally from top left to bottom right, to circle the eyes clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Each of these movements should be repeated for 5 times or more, if necessary. Finally, rub your hands for 5 to 10 seconds and then place them over your eyes for another 5 to 10 seconds; repeat this 3 times.
Having constantly dry eyes? Adding a few of the foods above or deciding to see a Chinese medicine practitioner is great, but how about a quick relief? The homeopathic eye drops can give you a safe and gentle alternative.
Healthy Crying for Health Eyes
Crying is a great way of clearing your eyes, so let those happy tears come out! Or peel some onion and let the tears flow. Even Sophia Loren believed this, as she once said that “if you haven’t cried your eyes can’t be beautiful”.
In a nutshell, eat whole foods, practice some of the exercises above and when these are not enough consult a health care provider for added help. The French say that the eyes are the mirror of the soul. Then why not keep them healthy so light can shine from your soul for the whole world to see?
Be happy and envision healthier!
Damiana Corca, DOM, AP, Dipl. O.M., Dipl. C.H.
Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture Physician
Board Certified Chinese Herbology
Board Certified in Oriental Medicine
Diplomate in Oriental Medicine
Western Family and Consultant Herbalist
Candidate, Board Certified Classical Homeopath
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