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Eye Health Basics Around the Home

Did you know that eagles can see something as small as a rabbit from as far as two miles away? While a human's eyesight is not that good, it is one of the most important of our senses. Our eyes work with our brain so that we can move freely about the world, gauging distance, depth, and movement.

Eyes are incredibly complex structures, but have only one major task. They are built to focus light on the back of the eye in an area called the retina. The light enters your eyeball through the pupil at the center of the iris, which can control how much light enters by expanding or narrowing. Too much light can damage the retina, but too little light and you can't see. When the light hits the retina, it stimulates nerve signals, which are carried to the brain via the optic nerve. The brain processes the nerve signals and interprets the images. All of this activity requires intense coordination between muscles, blood vessels, nerves and the brain.

So how do we protect our eyes and keep them healthy?
First is avoiding external injuries to our eyes. Every year there are over 125,000 eye injuries from common household products. Prevent Blindness American offers these tips:

  • Install lights and hand railings on stairs.
  • Inspect and remove debris from lawns before mowing.
  • Keep paints, pesticides, fertilizers, and similar products properly stored in a secure area.
  • Keep your tools in good condition; damaged tools should be repaired or replaced.
  • Wear safety glasses or dust goggles to protect against flying particles, and chemical goggles to guard against exposure to fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Keep toys intended for older children away from younger children.
  • Avoid flying toys and projectile-firing toys; these pose a danger to all children, particularly those under five years old.
  • Keep BB guns away from kids.

Nutrients and Foods For Healthy Eyes
Additionally, good nutrition and plenty of antioxidants can keep the internal workings of our eyes healthy. Eye tissue is particularly vulnerable to free radical damage. Studies have shown that increased intake of antioxidants such as beta carotene and lutein, can help protect eye tissue from oxidative stress caused by fee radical activity.†

Nutrients to Keep in Sight

  • Vitamin A
    Vitamin A is essential for eyes' adaptation to changes in light, night vision, and color vision.†
  • Beta-carotene
    Beta-carotene helps maintain eye moisture.† Excellent sources include carrots and leafy green vegetables.
  • Zinc
    Zinc helps prevent night blindness and is responsible for the mobilization of vitamin A.†
  • Vitamin C
    Vitamin C is essential to eye lens function.†
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin
    They are carotenoids found in blueberries. Both are found in a part of the retina our eyes use for detailed vision.

By taking some common sense precautions and getting a variety of good antioxidants in your diet, it's clear that you can keep your eyes healthy and strong for years to come.

Published September 23, 2009
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