How can the cold affect your eyes?

One of the most common patient complaints during the winter months is dry eyes. Cold and windy weather conditions can reduce the natural moisture in your eyes resulting in a burning or itching sensation.

Dry eye is a common visual condition which affects one in four people worldwide and is more likely to occur in women and the elderly. The medical name for dry eye syndrome is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Symptoms can include burning, scratchiness or irritation, redness, watering and even blurred vision. Although dry eye is generally not a sight-threatening condition, for those who suffer from it, it is often more than just a minor aggravation. Dry eye can be caused by insufficient tear production from the lacrimal gland or an unstable lipid layer, which is the thin oily layer on the outer most part of the tear film.

Some tips to get you through the winter months:

  • Talk to your optometrist about the best eye drops for your eyes
  • Stay hydrated, drink lots of water
  • When heating indoors try using a humidifier
  • Keep distance from blowing heat sources
  • No matter how irritated your eyes are, don’t rub your eyes

For more information on dry eye or any other eye disorder, contact your Optometrist.

Can dark chocolate improve our eyesight?

Chocolate lovers rejoice!
Recent research by the University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry, in San Antonio, Texas USA, suggests that eating dark chocolate could improve visual clarity.

Bars with more than 72% cacao increase ocular blood flow which enhances macular function and sharpens the ability to read words and numbers.

The new research tested people 2 hours after eating 47g of 72% Cacao dark chocolate, and again after 40g milk chocolate in separate sessions more than 3 days apart. The testing looked at various aspects of visual performance.

More than 70% of people scored significantly higher after eating the dark chocolate. The biggest improvement was in contrast sensitivity, which helps us see in low light, or when text is poorly printed. Another area that improved was visual acuity – a measure of the sharpness of vision.

Cacao beans are rich in flavanol, an organic compound which improves blood flow in the brain and cardiovascular system and aids in reducing inflammation.

Researchers proposed increases in blood flow could explain the improvements, but suggested more work needs to be done to understand the exact mechanism. In the meantime we think it sounds like a good excuse to load up on dark chocolate and do some private testing. Sounds like a delicious experiment.

Back to School Eye Exams

The back to school season brings a flurry of emotions for parents of school aged children. We all know that kids grow quickly, which often means its time a new uniform as well as stationery, books and a long list of other back to school equipment. But there’s one area in particular that often gets neglected – their eyes.

As school recommences in 2022, it is important to get your child’s eyes examined.  Approximately 20% of children in Australia suffer from a vision problem and worse yet, children often think that what they see is normal so they are unlikely to flag any issues with teachers or parents.

Vision problems can significantly affect learning with a recent Australian study of Year 3 children finding that those who were screened and identified as requiring glasses scored considerably lower in their NAPLAN relative to their peers.

Children of any age can have their eyes examined but it’s highly recommended that children starting kindergarten see their local optometrist to ensure they are getting the very best start to their schooling life.

Common signs of possible vision problems to look out for include:

  • Frequent squinting
  • Eye rubbing
  • Eye turn
  • Holding reading materials very close to their eyes

It’s equally important for parents to bring their children in for regular follow up eye examinations if they are already in glasses so that we can identify any changes to their script and make adjustments accordingly.

You can book an appointment with our practice today to ensure your child’s eye health.

10 Foods to Assist Your Vision

Eating the right foods can protect your vision and keep you healthy. Adding vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to your diet can improve your overall eye health. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.1 You can find these antioxidants in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and a lot of other foods.

Here are the top 10 foods that will boost your eye health.1, 2

Carrots

The hype is true, carrots are good for your eyes. These crunchy root vegetables are a great source of vitamin A, which is important for keeping your cornea clear. Carrots get their bright orange colour from beta carotene, which is essential for vitamin A production in the body.  Other foods rich in beta carotene include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, capsicum, mangoes, apricots and rockmelon (and any other bright yellow or orange fruits and veggies you can get your hands on).

Fish

Fish is a very good source of omega-3, which is an important nutrient for eye health. Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid which are essential for your body to produce new cells, muscles, nerves and organs, as well as having potent anti-inflammatory properties. They benefit our eye by nourishing the retina and aid tear production to keep the eyes moist and healthy, reducing dry eye syndrome.

Leafy green vegetables

Easy to digest, easy to include into every meal, and readily available, leafy greens are great not just for your eyes, but for your overall health. The darker the green, the better they are for you.  Leafy greens such as kale, spinach and green veggies are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for keeping your retina healthy. Broccoli, avocados and peas are also good sources of this powerful combination of antioxidants.

Berries and Citrus fruits

Oranges, lemons, red capsicum and berries are high in Vitamin C – a water soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including collagen found in the cornea of the eye. Vitamin C also promotes healthy bones, skin and blood vessels, including the delicate capillaries in the retina.

Legumes and Pulses

Legumes are plants, pods and seeds that belong to the Fabaceae family. They refer to foods like peas and beans, such as green beans and broad beans. Pulses are dried legumes. They include chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, mung beans, and lentils. Not only are legumes and pulses a protein powerhouse and an excellent source of fibre, they are also full of omega-3.

Nuts

Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, whichever take your fancy, are excellent sources of Vitamin E and minerals such as zinc that help keep your eyes healthy and may decrease your risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Seeds

Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E to help fight age-related eye health issues. Seeds such as chia seeds, pepitas, flaxseed, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds will help protect your retina.

Extra-virgin olive oil

The queen of oils, extra virgin olive oil can help your body absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, those all-important carotenoids that are vital for good eye health.

Eggs

Two of the most powerful antioxidants for eye protection, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found generously in egg yolks, just like in leafy green vegetables. When you have them in your omelette, you’re increasing your chances of antioxidant absorption because of the high-fat content of eggs. You also get ample vitamin C and E in the egg yolk, which are believed to be helpful against macular degeneration.

Lean Meat

Protein from lean meats such as beef, poultry (chicken, duck, turkey etc) or pork can be beneficial to your eyesight.  Beef is rich in vitamin A and zinc, both of which are beneficial to your cornea and your retina. Poultry and pork are also good sources of zinc.

As well as adding these 10 superfoods to your diet, you should also consider piling your plate with plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim to get your two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. The more colourful your cuisine gets, the better it will be for your eye health. As an added bonus, your overall health will benefit too.

References

1. American Optometric Association , “Diet and Nutrition,” 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y.

2. L. Arundel, “Top foods that can improve your eye health,” Good Vision For Life, 2016. [Online]. Available: https://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2016/08/04/top-ten-foods-can-improve-eye-health/

Importance of polarised lenses

It’s summer 2022, the sun is out and there is no doubt that we are all spending more time outdoors after two years in doors. With increased levels of sun exposure, it is critical that we continue to protect our eyes.

Polarised sunglasses are a great option for anyone who spends time outdoors. They are great for high-glare activities such as being on the water. Polarised lenses help reduce glare and provide additional clarity whilst protecting your eyes.

Polarised sunglasses have changed and improved immensely over the years, with newer technology now offering lower distortion to eliminate the swim effect. High-definition polarised lenses also reduce vibration, enhance clarity, allow for faster adaptation and minimise eye fatigue. When considering polarised lenses, it’s important to also consider UV protection.

There is also now a variety of colours in polarised lenses and a large range of fashionable frames on offer. So why not update your look this summer whilst still giving your eyes the best form of eye protection by wearing polarised sunglasses.

Visit our practice and chat to us about polarised lenses and what options might suit your lifestyle.