Eyes on the New Year:
Healthful Foods Vitamins & Habits for Optimal Vision

SAN DIEGO, CALIF (December 18, 2014) - When making health-related New Year’s resolutions, most people tend to focus on two things losing weight and exercising more. One of the nation’s most respected eye doctors suggests adding healthful habits for better vision as a top priority as well.

“By some estimates, 70 percent of all sensory experiences comes through the eyes, and eye health is intimately linked to our overall health and well-being, ” says Sandy T. Feldman MD, a San Diego-based ophthalmologist. “Considering how much time each day people spend in front of various screens-computers, TVs, e-readers, tablets, Smart phones - it’s clear that we rely on our vision far more than we know.”

Dr. Feldman offers some New Year’s tips to improve vision and prevent vision problems:

Eat more nutrient-rich foods - Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E can have a positive effect on eye health. Studies show these nutrients may help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Good choices include leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, colorful fruits (e.g. grapes, papaya, oranges), red and green peppers, wheat germ and vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, eggs, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fish (e.g., salmon, sardines, tuna).

Exercise more - It's good for the eyes as well as the cardiovascular system. Two studies in 2014 showed that exercise is good for the eyes. Exercise was associated with a 25% lower chance of developing glaucoma than in inactive individuals. Additionally, people that exercised three times a week developed less macular degeneration. So get moving now!

Vitamins - Don't believe everything you read on the labels. Ask your doctor whether you should be taking vitamins for your eyes and if so, ask your doctor for dosages of the ingredients you should be taking. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study [AREDSS] found that specific vitamins slowed the progression of macular degeneration in intermediate stage disease. In 2011, a follow up study on a new formulation in which beta carotene was replaced with lutein and zeaxanthin due to beta carotene's potential role in increasing lung cancer in smokers. Of the top selling brands, only fours of the 11 products met dosages in the studies.

Be mindful of your screen time - Staring for prolonged periods at computer monitors and other screens can lead to blurred vision, dry and irritated eyes, difficulty focusing, and double vision. Aim to take breaks every 20 minutes and increase the font size on e-readers or tablets to reduce eyestrain.

Use natural remedies to soothe dry eyes - Using a humidifier, eating foods with essential fatty acids, putting moist compresses over the eyes’ or taking a steamy shower are good ways to naturally replenish moisture to overly dry eyes.

Wear protective eyewear -Wear shatter-resistant goggles whenever playing high-impact sports and sunglasses that filter out harmful UVA light.

Practice good eye hygiene-Be sure to wash your hands before touching your eyes, remove daily-wear contact lenses before bedtime, clean contacts only with properly formulated products, and replace eye makeup and makeup applicators on a regular basis.

Use full-spectrum lighting at the office -Whenever possible, work in a well lit room with full-spectrum light, which closely mimics natural light. Florescent lighting can be very fatiguing to eyes.

“Taking good care of our eyes is very important, and it isn’t hard to do,” says Dr. Feldman. “Just a few simple new habits will make a lasting impact on our health and well-being.”