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Home > Newsletters > September 2009 > Ten Ways To Better Eye Health

Ten Ways To Better Eye Health

Ten Ways to Better Eye HealthBy Daoshing Ni, D.O.M, L.Ac., Ph.D, Dipl.C.H. 

In today's modern age, we increasingly rely on our eyes in our daily lives. We constantly stare at computers, TVs, cellular phones, PDAs, papers, etc. Consequently, by staring at small prints and spending more time reading from these types of media, we are straining our eyes. This has created increase in eye fatigue and a subsequent increase in the incidence of age related eye problems. Since good eye health provides us with a better quality of life, it is important for us to examine ways in which we can improve our eye health and keep our eyes healthy for many years to come. The following are ten ways to improve our eye health and prevent eye diseases.
Regular Eye Checkups
As a general rule of thumb, eye exams should be done once every two to four years under age 40 and once every two years after age 40. If you have an active eye problem or condition such as near-sightedness and far-sightedness and are noticing changes, it would be good to have eye exams yearly. This way, you can detect issues before they get severe. Earlier treatment usually means better prognosis.
Adhere to Good Vision Habits
Prolonged use of your eyes can cause weakening of your vision. Take frequent rests during the day if your work is focused on reading a lot. I would recommend resting for 10 minutes for every 50 minutes of reading activity. Better yet, intersperse your reading activities with exercise oriented activities so you can irrigate your eyes with renewed blood flow. Good lighting is also important. If you find your eyes straining when you read, you should change, or move, or increase your light source. Make sure there is minimal glare when you are reading.
Maintain a Healthy Sleep Schedule
An adequate and sound deep REM sleep schedule will help your eyes recover from the strains of the day. This is the only continuous period of time when your eyes totally rest, repair, and recover. Not having enough sleep will reduce your vision and weaken your eyes in the long term. If you have insomnia, get it managed or treated.
Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet
A balanced diet that incorporates ample amounts of vegetables and fruits is essential to good eye health. Our eyes require a lot of different types of nutrients to function well.  Vitamins such as A, C, E, beta-carotene, minerals such as copper and zinc, and oils such as Omega-3s are all important nutrients and they can be obtained from your vegetables, fruits, and fish. Current research shows that eating yellow and green vegetables may help people avoid age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. These vegetables are rich in the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, and include spinach, kale, turnip greens, collards, mustard greens, squash, green peas, broccoli, pumpkin, and corn. Taking a vitamin supplement in addition to a healthy diet can be extra insurance to help our eyes. Stay away from smoking and limit the use of caffeine as these substances directly affect optic pressure.
Hydrate Regularly and Frequently
Water is an essential nutrient and proper eye function requires proper hydration. Drink water frequently and regularly, this is better than drinking a lot of water in a short time, which your body will mobilize to excrete faster. A slow and regular intake of water creates a constant supply of water to lubricate and nourish our eyes.
Exercise Regularly and Have an Active Life Style
Blood circulation is an important key to bringing nutrients and lubrication to the eyes, at the same time this flow ensures the excretion of toxins and build-up in the eyes. Regular exercise ensures our blood vessels stay elastic and all of the microcirculations to the eyes are free flowing without obstruction. This can keep a check on intraocular pressures and prevent or delay glaucoma situations.
Manage Stress Well
It is proven that stress beyond what we can manage weakens and ages our body sooner. In order to start managing stress, we need to cultivate a good perspective on life. It is important to practice some kind of spiritual cultivation, which may include meditation, a religious ceremony, or healing movements such as yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. This helps us create a guidepost, gives us a sense of the direction in our lives, and ultimately allows us to go through our days with a better purpose, more presence and awareness. Needles to say, having renewed awareness and ease will result in reduced stress levels.
Wear Eye Protection
There are many glass and glaring surfaces in the world. Strong light and prolonged exposure to UV and glare will damage our eyes. Wearing eye protection is a wise move for this reason. Please do not forget to protect your eyes when doing sports. If you are outdoors with sunlight, make sure to wear UV blocking sunglasses.
Practice Eye Exercises Regularly
There are many forms of eye exercises you can practice and most are very helpful. Here are a few you may try:
Rolling the Marble: press the back of your thumbs gently against the eyeballs; slowly roll up and down 12 times. Then slowly roll from side to side 12 times.
Pressing the Rim of the Valley: use both thumbs and press slowly from the inside outward along the upper rim of the eye sockets. Then switch to both index fingers and press along the lower rim of the eye sockets from the inside outward. Repeat three times.
Spinning the Basketball: with eyes open, roll eyes clockwise, then counter-clockwise three times each. Try to look into the sockets of your eyes as much as possible.
Frequent Exposure to Nature
You may also want to spend more time in nature where there is ample fresh air and wide open space. Being present in nature and greenery is very good for your emotional well-being, it will reduce stress levels and help you breath. Better air quality is very healthful for your eyes. If you can, find some time on the weekend to walk in a forest or on a beach. Take a break from reading and look into the distance, the change in focus will bring greater clarity of mind and of sight.
In addition to these ten ways, you may also want to try acupuncture treatments. When your eyes are strained or inflamed, acupuncture is proven to temporarily bring better localized blood flow to the entire eye region, thus reducing inflammation and irritation. Traditionally, acupuncture has been used for blurred vision, eyestrain and eye injuries for thousands of years. Together with acupuncture, an important part of our practice is the prescription of herbs that can be used internally or topically for eye conditions.

Dr. Daoshing Ni, D.O.M, L.Ac., Ph.D, Dipl.C.H.

Dr. Dao is a Licensed Acupuncturist in the State of California and is a Diplomat of Chinese Herbology NCCA. Dr. Dao has been active in the TCM profession as well as professional organizations. He was an examiner for the California Acupuncture Committee and also participated in the Chinese Herbology Exam development for NCCA. Well known and respected for his special interest in reproductive and gynecological conditions. Dr. Dao is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Pacific Coast Fertility Society, and American Association of Oriental Medicine.

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