Give Your Eyes a Rest

Don’t let screen glare ruin your eyes.

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - BY EMILY A. KANE, ND, LAc

I think elec­tronic screens are ru­in­ing my eyes, but my job and my so­cial life re­quire screen time. What can I do to pro­tect against fur­ther de­te­ri­o­ra­tion? — Kris J., Fresno, Calif.

a:First, be smart about con­sol­i­dat­ing screen time. In­stead of check­ing your phone con­stantly, dis­ci­pline your­self to check sev­eral times through­out the day— not dozens of times. One of the rea­sons I con­tinue to wear a watch is so I don’t whip out my phone to check the time. Def­i­nitely don’t check your phone fi rst thing in the morn­ing. Do not plug in your phone at your bed­side. If you share a bed, ask your bed­mate to do the same. Just put the phones away.

Am­ber- tinted glasses help block the ir­ri­tat­ing blue light emit­ted from screens. If you’re go­ing to have a screen ses­sion longer than 10 min­utes, con­sider in­vest­ing in a pair— ei­ther cus­tom­ized for your cor­rec­tion, or un­cor­rected that you can slip over glasses, or just to shield eyes if you don’t wear glasses at all.

Com­puter eye strain can of­ten be greatly re­duced by ad­just­ing the screen res­o­lu­tion ( if that makes let­ters too small, in­crease the font size), and also by ad­just­ing the screen con­trast so the light isn’t too bright or too dim. Also, po­si­tion your screen so there’s no glare from other bright light sources. Don’t shine a light at your screen or sit with a win­dow at your back. Make sure you don’t have to hold your head at a weird an­gle to work at the com­puter. Thighs and fore­arms should be par­al­lel to the fl oor, with the mon­i­tor and key­board straight ahead.

Ex­er­cise Your Eyes

There are many eye ex­er­cises that you can do in less than 5 min­utes per day. Here are three of my fa­vorites from Su­per­Vi­sion: A Daily Pro­gram for Ex­cep­tional Eye Health by Purna Yoga mas­ter- teacher Aadil Palkhivala. They can be done pre­ven­tively, one to three times daily, or when­ever your eyes feel strained and you want a ther­a­peu­tic break.

1. Sit­ting with good pos­ture, up­right but re­laxed, feet on fl oor, thighs par­al­lel with fl oor, belly gen­tly drawn in to­ward your spine, and up to­ward your heart, vig­or­ously rub your palm to­gether for sev­eral sec­onds. The fric­tion will cre­ate some pleas­ant heat. Ap­ply the warm palms of your hands gen­tly to your closed eye­lids and al­low the warmth to trans­fer into the eye­balls. Let your vi­sion sink into dark­ness. Re­lax your eye­balls un­til you see no light. This will in­crease blood fl ow to all the mus­cles around the eyes, as well as pro­mote heal­ing. Re­peat as de­sired.

2. Keep­ing your eyes closed, move them in a big fig­ure- 8 pat­tern, about 5– 10 times in one di­rec­tion, slowly, not caus­ing any strain what­so­ever, and then go in the other di­rec­tion. Some­times it takes a few sec­onds to be sure you’re re­ally go­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. Then just rest with the eyes closed for a few mo­ments.

3. Find a win­dow from which you can see some­thing at a dis­tance, or just go out­side. Hold a pen­cil about 12– 14 inches in front of your face, keep­ing shoul­ders re­laxed. Look at the tip of the pen­cil, then “jump” your vi­sion to an ob­ject in the dis­tance, then back to the pen­cil. Jump back and forth quickly but not fre­net­i­cally. This clas­sic eye ex­er­cise, called “near- far jumps,” will both strengthen the oc­u­lar mus­cles and im­prove

their flex­i­bil­ity. Chang­ing the fo­cal dis­tance re­quires chang­ing the re­la­tion­ship of the tiny mus­cles all around the eyes.

What Healthy Eyes Need Most

Your eyes need wa­ter,, just like the rest of your body. Drink wa­ter first thing in the morn­ing and through­out the day, es­pe­cially dur­ing ex­er­cise. The only bad time to drink wa­ter is dur­ing a meal. Let your di­ges­tive juices work undi­luted on your food. Oth­er­wise, sip pure clear wa­ter through­out the day.

Your eyes also need a healthy diet of nu­tri­ents that help main­tain visual acu­ity. Ev­ery­one knows about night vi­sion and vi­ta­min A. I rec­om­mend 25,000 IUs daily. Beta- carotene is a bright yel­low- orange pre­cur­sor to vi­ta­min A found abun­dantly in na­ture. Turmeric, pump­kin, car­rots, sweet pota­toes, and dark leafy greens are all good sources. ( Chloro­phyll masks the beta- carotene color in leafy greens.) Eat yel­low and orange spices, fruits, and veg­eta­bles daily. Vi­ta­min A is harder to get from your diet, but beta- carotene is easy if you make veg­eta­bles the cen­ter­piece of your meals. You can also look for a mul­ti­vi­ta­min that’s tar­geted for oc­u­lar health. In ad­di­tion to the ba­sics, they usu­ally con­tain tau­rine, lutein ( 10 mg daily), zeax­an­thin ( 2 mg daily), and bil­berry or other darkly pig­mented fruit con­cen­trates ( such as pomegranate or resver­a­trol). Tau­rine is the most abun­dant sul­fur- con­tain­ing amino acid in the body. Be­sides pro­mot­ing reti­nal health, tau­rine im­proves mus­cle tone, re­duces obe­sity, and is crit­i­cal for good hear­ing. It’s found nat­u­rally in fish and meat. If you are a veg­e­tar­ian, you should sup­ple­ment 1– 2 grams daily ( 1,000– 2,000 mg). Lutein is a very spe­cific bioflavonoid that is heal­ing to the retina.

You may need to ex­per­i­ment to find an oc­u­lar multi that works for you. Choose a prod­uct that con­tains most, if not all, of the in­gre­di­ents listed above. Do a “load­ing dose” of dou­ble the rec­om­mended in­take for 7– 10 days. If in 10 days the new oc­u­lar multi al­lows you to use your glasses less, or have bet­ter vi­sion en­durance, then drop down to the rec­om­mended dose and as­sess if this will main­tain con­tin­ued progress. Some­times, not get­ting worse is progress.

Do you have a ques­tion for Dr. Kane? Email it to ed­i­to­rial@ bet­ter­nu­tri­tion. com with “Ask the ND” in the sub­ject line.

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