Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Our Eyes: Taking the Pressure Off
Some months ago I began experiencing pressure behind my eyes. I do wear glasses to read, but my prescription is fairly recent, so I began to research the problem and look into ways that I could reduce the pressure through diet. Through my research I discovered that eye pressure, or ocular hypertension, can occur without affecting vision or without damage to the optic nerve. Also called intraocular pressure, it is considered by eye doctors to be a possible precursor to glaucoma - a condition that includes pressure, vision loss, and optic nerve damage - if not treated appropriately. Intraocular pressure can arise as we age, in the same manner that the risk of glaucoma can become more prevalent as we move on through the years.
If we are not suffering from a specific disease such as glaucoma, keeping eye pressure at its normal range of 10 to 22 mm/Hg is not difficult if specific foods are included in the diet. Foods that nurture our blood vessels and nerves can help to lower eye pressure and thus help to subvert the possibility of more serious conditions later on. According to Dr. Marc Grossman, OD, over 25% of the nutrients found in healthful foods are absorbed through the blood vessels, nerves, and tissues that relate directly to our vision.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that has more presence in the eyes than anywhere else in the body. If we don’t get enough of this vitamin, our vision is directly affected, weakening and inviting problems such as pressure and deterioration. Eating citrus fruits like oranges, nectarines, lemons, limes, grapefruits are great choices as they are chock full of C. Strawberries, raspberries, peaches, kiwi, mangos, guava, and lychees also help to give the eyes a huge anti-oxidant boost. Veggies such as broccoli, kale, green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and red peppers are excellent, especially when eaten raw or slightly steamed so as not to damage the vitamin content.
A, B, and Zinc
These three vitamins work in harmony together to reduce eye pressure as one enhances the other’s ability to do its part. Vitamin A is abundant in dried apricots, mangos, cantaloupe, carrots, and sweet potatoes as well as spinach, mozzarella cheese, egg yolks, milk, and liver. Vitamin B is found in bananas, avocados, Brazil nuts, potatoes, turkey, tuna fish, and liver. Zinc is found in wheat germ, bran, pecans, pine nuts, shellfish, fish, and eggs.
Lutein is another essential nutrient for regulating intraocular pressure. Lutein is found in parsley, dill, carrots, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, mustard and collard greens, potatoes, and tomatoes. Apples, plums, and berries are good fruit choices for getting your daily dose of lutein.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Rich in bioflavenoids and antioxidants that help to ward off the specter of eye pressure and disease, omega 3 fatty acids help to enrich the nerve cells located in the retina. Eating plenty of flaxseeds, cod liver oil, soybeans, walnuts, raw tofu, and fish can help you get the dietary requirement of omega 3 that is so necessary for eye health.
Bilberry is an herb that boasts a high quantity of flavonoid anthocyanosides, which are antioxidants that enhance vascular tissues. During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots reported that after consuming quantities of bilberry, their night vision had improved radically.
Ginkgo biloba has been used for centuries in the natural treatment of glaucoma because of its ability to improve blood flow to the eyes. A powerful antioxidant, it holds a number of essential benefits for not only vision, but for other parts of the body, including brain function. Ginkgo biloba can be found in health food stores in the form of capsules, tinctures, or tea.
Note: It is always best to consult with your healthcare provider before embarking on a remedial protocol.
Nutritional Wellness: Natural Eye Care and Nutrition by Marc Grossman, OD
The Eye Digest: Bilberry and Ginkgo Biloba
E Medicine Health: Ocular Hypertension
Natural Eye Care