Eye Health Tips Offered Up as Important Part of Health
In this week’s HealthYeah video interview series, we sat down with Dr. Kading of Specialty Eyecare Group to chat about eye health. So often, we take eye health for granted. But, Dr. Kading stepped in to help us understand how nutrition, lifestyle, and preventive care are important to eye health. During the interview, we get into ways to optimize your eye health and in the spirit of our June Father’s Day theme, we discuss ideas for dads to help their kids with eye health, but also to take care of their own eyes through middle age and into senior years.
Jump into the interview anytime by clicking on the video. We have also included a summary below!
Eyecare and Screen Time in Today’s Technological World
For the month of June, we are focusing our HealthYeah interviews on men for Father’s Day. As a father and an eye doctor, Dr. Kading is aware of the negative impact screen time has on his children’s eye sight. He does not believe children need to be restricted from using devices, but that it is all about finding balance. The progression of nearsightedness affects one in two individuals in the United States and is reduced by 66 percent if a child spends time outside for two hours a day. Spending time on our screens is important to advance us academically, but playing outside is crucial for our overall health – and that includes for eye health! For children less than two years old, it is especially crucial to prohibit all screen time. Studies show that children under two should not be exposed to screens at all, but for those who find that improbable in today’s world, he recommends limiting toddlers to only watching television when appropriate.
Dr. Kading lists three side effects of overexposure to screens:
- The progression of nearsightedness.
- Increased risk for certain diseases due to the ambient blue light that emanates from screens.
- The possibility that eyes could become locked in from focusing up close too often.
Mitigating the Effects of Too Many Screens!
Eye doctors created the 20/20 rule for screen exposure. Under this rule, for every twenty minutes spent looking at a computer, spend 20 seconds looking away to relax your eyes. Along with implementing the 20/20 rule, Dr. Kading recommends an incredibly simple solution: blink more! By taking the time to consciously blink six times a day, we train our eyes to blink more regularly in general. Blinking helps prevent dry eye, but when we are on a computer or digital device studies have found we blink 60-70 percent less often. Just like consciously adjusting your posture helps your overall posture, consciously blinking will help your overall eye health.
How Do You Know if Your Child Eye Health is in Jeopardy?
According to Dr. Kading, all children need an eye exam before they are a year old, and subsequently every year afterwards. He recommends taking advantage of a program called Infant SEE, a pediatric zero-charge eye exam. On top of annual eye exams, a few things to watch out for are: headaches, excessive blinking, or complaining about dry or itchy eyes. Any of those symptoms can mean a child needs their vision checked by an eye doctor. Incredibly, about 90 percent of children with vision problems get missed at school vision screenings, and 70 percent of children in juvenile detention centers have vision related learning problems that were missed. These statistics are why it is crucial parents do not rely on school vision tests and schedule their own eye exams annually.
Eye Health and Vision as We Age
Between the ages of 50 and 70, we spend a lot of time looking at screens. During this time period, Dr. Kading believes you should update your glasses with even the smallest prescription change. He also recommends finding an eye doctor who will take the time to understand your lifestyle and personalize glasses that fit your needs. In the interview, Dr. Kading encouraged all to demand health care providers look after us as people, not just a mass of symptoms to fix.
Dry eye can be a serious condition that Dr. Kading believes is often overlooked. Many people tend to lean towards treating the symptoms rather than the underlying problem and turn to artificial tear drops. However, eventually the dryness can become a disease that progresses and never improves. Dr. Kading recommends people take eye hygiene as seriously as dental hygiene and do not ignore small symptoms that could become dangerous later.
Debunking Myths About Dry Eye
Myth #1: I can fix it later! Dr. Kading says that a person goes between two to three years using regular artificial tear drops before seeing an eye doctor. Just like taking Tylenol daily will not solve an underlying chronic condition, using eye drops will not solve dry eye – it will just alleviate symptoms for a short time.
Myth #2: This is normal! If your eyes feel uncomfortable several times a week, that is not normal. If you are experiencing discomfort from dry eyes, you should see an eye doctor before it potentially becomes a debilitating problem later.
An estimated 4.88 million Americans age 50 and older have dry eyes. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) often is the underlying cause of dry eyes. A study of 233 older adults (91 percent male; average age 63) found that 59 percent had at least one sign of meibomian gland dysfunction. These are important areas of dry eye health to discuss with your doctor.
Eye Health and Diabetes
During the interview, Dr. Kading explains that the leading cause of blindness in the United States is diabetes, and eye care providers are one of the top diagnoses of diabetes. Diabetes occurs when blood vessels do not have proper nutrients to hold in the blood, which leads to leaky blood vessels in the eyes. Diabetes and prediabetes effect more than 100 million people in the United States, yet only 11 percent of prediabetics know of their condition.
Exercise for Eye Health
You already know that 30 minutes of physical exercise a day can pay benefits to your heart, your waistline and your energy level. But, so often we forget to focus on just how important exercise is and how it can do a world of good for eye health. Over the last decade, several studies have found a link between regular exercise and reducing the risk of eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. In one study, researchers followed more than 5,600 men and women to see if there was a link between moderate exercise and ocular perfusion pressure, an important factor in the development of glaucoma. People who engaged in moderate physical exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop glaucoma than people who were largely inactive.
At Excy, our goal is to help people find time to exercise when exercise is inconvenient or if someone struggles with mobility, including for those with visual impairment when exercise can feel almost impossible. We even make it possible to exercise in bed, from a couch, or even at the kitchen table. If exercise is a struggle, even small lifestyle changes can have enormous impact down the line.
Supplements to Help with Eye Health
Omega-3s are good for our eyes, our brains, and our overall health. The vitamin commonly taken as fish oil supplements helps our tear film stay fluid and keep it from becoming inflamed. However, because of a lack of regulation for products on the market, you must be careful about the concentration of actual Omega-3s in the vitamins. Dr. Kading also recommends taking a supplement called Restore from EyePromise, which is high in zeaxanthin and lutein. This supplement thickens a layer of your retina to absorb a damaging light that comes in. Finally, Dr. Kading recommends investing in glasses with a blue light filter. While looking away from our screens every twenty minutes helps our eye health, a blue light filter can reduce the amount of harmful exposure from our screens.
Dr. Kading’s Takeaways
- Visit an eye doctor annually and pay close attention to any genetic eye diseases.
- Take supplements with Omega 3s, zeaxanthin and lutein to help long-term eye health.
- If you are a parent, make sure your children are spending two hours outside every day!
- Look away from your screen every twenty minutes and blink regularly.
- Use tools like Excy to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your entire body!
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