New Year’s Resolutions:
How They Can Benefit Your Vision
With the New Year comes a whole host of resolutions, and while your peepers might not make the list explicitly, there's a good chance that nearly all your good intentions could have positive effects on your vision - and after all, isn't what you can see half the reason you're heading into the gym in the first place?
Double time on the cardio machines this month might be powered by pumpkin pie, but the path from "just one more scoop of ice cream" is more direct than you might think. Research has shown that obesity is strongly linked with a number of eye diseases including glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Obesity is also a leading cause of diabetes, which along with its many other potential complications, is the leading cause of blindness due to Diabetic retinopathy. That condition is caused by damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina. How much can diabetes affect vision? Adults with diabetes are twice as likely as their non-diabetic peers to develop glaucoma. Better triple that cardio time.
No stack of New Year’s Resolutions is complete without promises to replace Cheesy Puffs with kale salad. Sure, that's more about 20 lbs. than 20/20 vision, but diet can help maintain good eye health and stave off some age-related conditions.
The American Optometric Association recommends getting plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin (green leafy veggies), vitamin C (fruits and vegetable), vitamin E (nuts, fortified cereals), and zinc to keep eyes healthy and reduce the risks of macular degeneration and cataracts.
And what about that old line your mom used about carrots giving you better eyesight? Well, it wasn't the full tooth fairy treatment, as carrots contain piles of vitamin A, a key nutrient for maintenance of good vision. In fact, if you went without enough vitamin A for long enough, the photoreceptors on the outer portion of the eye would begin to deteriorate and vision would along with it. But before going full Bugs Bunny, remember that OD'ing on carrots can give you orange-looking skin from too much carotene in the blood, so munch accordingly.
Seriously, stop. Smoking increases risk for cataracts and macular degeneration, and the risks increase the more you light up. Plus, smoking increases risks for cardiovascular issues that can negatively affect vision, and anyone who's ever walked into a smoke-filled bar knows even secondhand smoke can be a ferocious eye irritant.
Put Your Phone/Tablet Down
Promising to finally kick that embarrassing Angry Birds habit in 2014? Your eyes will thank you; staring at screens all day - from work computers to the phone on the train home to the tablet in bed – causes eye strain, headaches and more. If you can't break away from the glow, make sure your computer monitor is positioned properly and that you take short breaks a few times an hour and longer breaks every few hours.
Better yet, step away from the computer terminal and head outside for a bit. The fresh air will do you good. Just be sure to wear polarized sunglasses, as those UV rays can cause a slew of problems for your vision.