You might not know it, but your eyes reflect your overall health. Because they're so sensitive, trouble with the eyes may indicate general health problems. High blood pressure, for example, causes blood vessels in the eye to narrow, constricting blood flow that often leads to glaucoma; macular degeneration can be traced in part to nutritional deficiencies; and adult onset diabetes sometimes results in retinal damage and cataracts. Early detection, along with regular eye exams and attention to maintaining healthy eyes, helps to control and often prevent vision loss due to health problems.
Our eyes are much like the rest of the body -- exercise, good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle all help to ensure eye health. Although the thought of eye exercises might seem a little strange, vision improvement exercises can make a definite difference in long-term eye health.
And we can't ignore diet's role when it comes to the eyes. In a perfect world, our diets would include plenty of protein, natural calcium and other minerals, vegetables, carbohydrates and fat. Unfortunately, that's usually not the case. So what should you do? Reducing saturated fat, sugar and artificial additives can lower your risk for vascular disease, which in turn improves circulation to the eyes. And eating more bright-colored fruits and vegetables, such as oranges and carrots, enhances absorption of vitamin A. After all, has Bugs Bunny ever worn glasses?
But if you've had your fill of veggies and citrus, or if you just want to make sure your body is getting enough of the nutrients it needs, supplementation may be the answer. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E and lutein support healthy eyes and protect your lenses from ultraviolet damage. Lipoic acid is highly effective against a wide variety of oxidants, and also has the ability to regenerate vitamins C and E.
Certain herbs are beneficial, too. Bilberry has been shown to improve night vision and help adaptation to bright light. Recent research suggests that it also enhances capillary integrity. Eyebright has a long history of use in maintaining healthy eyes. It helps improve tear quality, as well as improving the health of the lens, cornea and retina.
Eyesight is arguably the most important of our five senses. Fortunately, you can do your part to protect your eyesight with simple lifestyle adjustments and making sure your body is properly nourished.
NOTE: The information in this article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Check with your doctor before making decisions on any vision care supplement.