Our eyesight is one the most important senses we have, allowing us to see the faces of the people we love, a sunset over a summer lake, snow-swept mountains, the azure blue of a tropical beach.
Without it, life’s color fades away.
But there’s no need to imagine a life without beauty when they are so many things you can do to support the health of your eyes – including taking steps while pregnant to support healthier eyes for your kids.
A child’s eye health begins in utero, and one of the best things a pregnant mom can do is make sure to take in enough omega-3 fatty acids. One of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids – DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) – has been strongly linked to a wide range of good things in childhood including supporting brain health and healthy eye function. (Ref. 1)
Not only did children whose mothers consumed DHA have sharper vision at the two-month marker, infants who consumed formula supplemented with DHA had significantly better vision at both two and four months of age compared to little ones whose formula was not supplemented, according to two separate studies. (Ref. 2)
The omega-3 benefits continue throughout life.
When your children are young, make sure they take in plenty of omega-3s from fish, especially fish like wild-caught salmon from low-mercury sources, and consider adding a quality fish oil supplement to their daily diet, especially if they are fussy about eating fish.
(Omega-3s also help support adult eyes. Check out our Xtend-Life family of fish oil products.)
Other important nutrients to support children’s eye health include lutein which is found in leafy greens, as well as vitamins C and E.
Computer Vision Syndrome?
Yes, Computer Vision Syndrome – also known as Digital Eye Strain – is a real thing, and it’s becoming more and more common as more of us spend hours each day in front of a computer screen.
According to the experts at WebMD.com, at least 50 to 90 percent of those who regularly use a computer for work suffer from some sort of related problem (Ref. 3), including blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes, irritated eyes, headaches and neck of back pain.
The issues arise because when they’re focused on a computer screen all day, the eyes have to work harder. If the issues are not addressed, they can worsen.
Kids who spend too much time playing video games are also at risk, so plan a family activity to get them away from the games and doing something other than staring at a screen.
Cataracts: And the world goes dim
For those over 40, cataracts are the most common reason for vision loss and the number one cause of blindness worldwide, according to Prevent Blindness America.
22 million Americans suffer from one of three different forms of cataract, which is essentially the clouding of the eye’s lens. They usually form in both eyes, although the levels of lens damage can differ between eyes.
A subcapsular cataract, which occurs at the back of the lens, is more common in those with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroids. The two other types of cataracts - a nuclear cataract, which forms in the center of the lens and a cortical cataract, which starts at the periphery of the lens and slowly works its way toward the center – are most associated with aging. (Ref. 4)
Given the commonality of cataracts and other eye issues including age-related macular degeneration, are we essentially doomed to face a host of physical problems as we age, culminating in failing eyesight?
In truth, age is just a number, and while you might have used your eyes for more than 40 years, they certainly don’t have to show it.
All eyes on eye health
At Xtend-Life, we’ve included numerous nutrients in our Total Balance family that are specifically formulated to help support your eyes against free radicals, including:
- Zeaxanthin. This antioxidant not only sharpens central vision, it may also support eye health by absorbing blue light (which can potentially cause free radical activity) and reducing glare. Clearly vital to eye health, zeaxanthin is not produced by the body, and can only come from food or supplements. Studies have shown that those with diets rich in zeaxanthin are less likely to develop cataracts. (Ref. 5)
- Rutin. Rutin is believed to support blood vessels, including those that feed the eyes. It also helps inhibit an enzyme that impacts how glucose is metabolized in the eye, supporting nerve cells from damage due to excess sugar. (Ref. 6)
- Lutein. This antioxidant supports the eye from damage caused by sunlight and could help support the body’s ability to cope or even manage the risk of developing age-related eye conditions. (Ref. 5)
- Astaxanthin. This powerful antioxidant has been shown in studies to support the retina as well as the body’s ability to manage damage caused by diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, making it essential for eye health. (Ref. 6)
- Bilberry extract. This antioxidant is believed to support night vision – so much so that according to legend, British Royal Air Force pilots bombed targets more accurately during World War II after consuming bilberry jam. While the story may not be true, bilberry has been shown in studies to help support eye health and function. (Ref. 7)
If you’re working to support the health of your body and your skin from the aging process, it’s important to consider your eyes as well.