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7 Tips to Keep Your Vision Healthy and Clear

Most of the information we receive from our surroundings comes through our eyes, so let’s do our best to protect them. Follow these 7 tips to give your eyes and vision the boost they need to stay healthy. 

Eye Health Habits & Tips

1. Eat a Well Balanced Diet

Consuming a healthy and balanced diet filled with lots of vitamins and nutrients can help keep your eyes healthy and strong. Vitamins A, E and C, along with zinc, lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids have all been shown to support eye health and function — and  reduce the risk of sight-threatening eye diseases.

2. Exercise

Exercising for at least 20 minutes each day not only gets your body moving, but also improves blood circulation in the eyes. A regular exercise routine can also help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of obesity — a risk factor for several diseases that cause vision loss in adults.

3. Control Your Blood Pressure 

Keeping your blood pressure within normal limits is not only important for your overall health, but for your eye health as well. High blood pressure can damage the tiny and fragile blood vessels that feed the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye, and result in blurred vision and vision loss. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle and taking the right medication, if prescribed, can help to reduce your blood pressure and your risk of vision loss.

4. Wear Sunglasses 

Wearing 100% UV protective sunglasses can protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays and reduce your risk of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and other sight-threatening eye conditions. 

5. Rest Your Eyes

Spending hours each day in front of a computer screen or other digital device can lead to eye strain, fatigue and dry eye symptoms. Practice the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes their much needed break — every 20 minutes, tear your eyes away from the screen and look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. 

6. Quit Smoking

Smoking is hazardous to your health and affects nearly all the organs in your body, including your eyes. Cigarette smoke in particular contains toxins that have been shown to cause cerebral lesions in the visual processing area of the brain.

Smoking tobacco has also been linked to higher risks of sight-threatening eye diseases including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.

7. Schedule Regular Eye Exams

Regular eye exams are a crucial part of maintaining eye health and vision. Comprehensive eye exams can detect early signs of eye disease, even before symptoms appear — facilitating earlier treatment and lowering your risk of permanent vision loss. 

If you’re due for a routine checkup, you’ve noticed any changes in your vision, or you’d like to learn more about protecting your ocular health, contact Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses in Albuquerque to schedule an eye exam today!

Is there a link between Keratoconus and Sleep Apnea?

If you’re sleepy during the day, you may attribute that to vision problems associated with keratoconus. But studies have found that people with keratoconus are at a higher rate of having Sleep Apnea than patients without keratoconus.

What is Keratoconus?

Having keratoconus means the cornea starts to thin and bulge into a cone shape. People with this eye disorder will often have decreased vision, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light and glare. This eye disorder generally worsens over time.

Those with a family history of keratoconus are at higher risk for developing it themselves. Individuals with Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome, or a congenital disorder are also known to develop Keratoconus. 

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

If you stop breathing involuntarily briefly while sleeping, you may have sleep apnea. This can happen hundreds of times during your sleep without waking you so you don’t even notice it.

There are three types of sleep apnea provided on the Sleep Foundation website:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): OSA occurs when the airway at the back of the throat becomes physically blocked. That obstruction causes temporary lapses in the breath.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): CSA happens because there is a problem with the brain’s system for controlling muscles involved in respiration, leading to slower and shallower breathing. This is a rare form of sleep apnea.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea: When a person has both OSA and CSA at the same time, it is referred to as mixed sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects children and adults. Obesity, having a large neck, a family history, or excessive drug and alcohol use, can all lead to an increased risk of developing or having OSA. 

Research on Keratoconus and OSA

A 2018 study published in Cornea, found that “OSA was 10 to 20 times more prevalent among patients with KCN than the rate reported for the general population.”

This 2019 study reviewed five studies on the association between keratoconus and OSA and found there is a correlation.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why there is a link between keratoconus and OSA, but multiple studies have found this to be the case. 

Do I have OSA?

Most studies use the Berlin Questionnaire to determine the risk level for sleep apnea. If you’re curious how you would score, you can take the Berlin Questionnaire here to see what your risk factor is. Of course, you should always seek a qualified medical diagnosis and treatment.

Patients with Keratoconus Should Speak to Their Doctor About OSA

If you have keratoconus, consider discussing sleep apnea with your primary care physician. 

Patients with keratoconus may attribute their sleepiness to their corneal disorder. Knowing they are at higher risk for having sleep apnea may allow them to seek a medical diagnosis sooner to receive treatment.

Do I have Keratoconus?

Early detection of keratoconus may give you more treatment options for managing this cornea condition. Our Albuquerque office specializes in keratoconus diagnosis and management and we have technology available that can help us detect keratoconus sooner than other eye care clinics. There is no cure for keratoconus but it can be managed and corneal crosslinking can slow the progression.

If there is a family history of keratoconus, or you’re experiencing poor or blurry vision, make an appointment with our eye doctors so we can create a treatment plan for you.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

The Prevalence of Myopia and Ways To Keep Children’s Eyes Healthy

Researchers have stated that Myopia is one of the most common vision issues affecting children around the world. It has been estimated that by 2050, almost five billion people will be myopic. In 2020, in the U.S.A., it was reported that approximately 40% of the population is myopic compared to only 28% in 2000. Fortunately, in June of 2019, the American Optometric Association (AOA) took action to promote public awareness about childhood myopia and the importance of slowing myopia in children. In 2020, the AOA proclaimed 2020 as the “Year of the Eye Exam” to encourage parents to schedule an in-person eye exam with an AOA family doctor of optometry for themselves and their children.

Helping Our Children Keep Their Eyes Healthy

We live in a digital world where our children need to use digital devices as part of their education, entertainment and to stay connected with us and their friends. Naturally, spending a significant amount of time in front of a screen can lead to digital eye strain which can harm our children’s ocular health. It is extremely difficult to eliminate the use of such devices but it doesn’t mean we can’t encourage our children to develop proper digital device habits to help us protect their vision and overall health. Our doctors at Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses would like to share some practical advice about helping our children keep their eyes healthy:

Limit Screen Time

The average child between the ages of 3 to 5 spends about 2 hours a day in front of a screen. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children in this age group should not spend more than one hour. Consequently, we need to encourage our children to limit their screen time and for older children to take frequent breaks and to develop healthier viewing habits. Currently, there are numerous applications available to help parents manage children’s screen time such as Plano, Screen Time Parental Control, unGlue, Screen Time, Digital Wellbeing and more.

Increase Outdoor Time

Nowadays, we need to ensure that our children spend more time in natural light to help them avoid developing myopia, or to slow down its progression. We need to encourage outdoor activities such as playing sports, going for walks, playing in the park or the backyard and riding their bikes or scooters.

Engage Kids In Non-Digital Activities

By encouraging our children to engage in activities that will take them away from digital screens, we not only lower the risk of myopia but also help sharpen their vision skills. For example, by simply spending time playing with toys which require hand-eye coordination such as puzzles and building blocks or by painting and drawing or even playing catch, you will help your child’s vision grow and develop.

Develop Healthy Eye Care Habits

Helping our children develop basic healthy eye care habits is also extremely helpful in controlling the development of nearsightedness. Here are some habits we should all try to develop to help keep our eyes healthy:

  • When reading, ensure there is adequate lighting and hold the book about 30 cm away from our eyes.
  • If possible, we should choose books with a large print.
  • We should discourage our children from reading in bed and in moving vehicles.
  • Computer screens should be about 20 inches away from our eyes and positioned to avoid glare from the reflection of light sources such as windows and indoor lighting.
  • When watching TV children should sit as far as possible especially if the TV screen is large.
  • Ensure that our children get at least 8 hours of sleep to rest their eyes.

Ortho-K or Orthokeratology Contact Lenses

Ortho-K contact lenses have been found to be very effective in controlling the progression of myopia. This treatment reshapes your child’s cornea while sleeping and therefore enabling him or her to see clearly during the day without needing to wear glasses. Unlike Lasik, it’s not a permanent solution but Ortho-K contact lenses can help slow down the progression of nearsightedness.

Atropine Eye Drops

Atropine eye drops can be used on a daily basis (one drop in each eye at bedtime) for about 2 years to reduce the progression of myopia. These drops do not prevent the development of myopia, they are used to control and limit its development. Children prescribed Atropine must be monitored by their optometrist about twice a year. Atropine eyes drops are only used at 0.01% concentration to avoid side effects such as photophobia, a condition where our eyes develop sensitivity to sunlight or strong lighting.

Annual Eye Check-Ups

Children should have regular eye exams (at least once a year) to ensure their eyes are healthy and developing properly. At Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses, we perform comprehensive testing to determine if children can see clearly and avoid difficulties at school, sports and any other activities. Vision issues can interfere with reading, performance, interest in school, and reaching important educational milestones. What’s more, the possibilities of treating myopia effectively increase when it is diagnosed at an early stage.

For more information about myopia or to book your child’s appointment with our experienced eye doctors at Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses, call us at 505-565-5112 or contact us online.

How To Avoid Eye Fatigue

How to keep your eyes and your kids’ eyes from eye fatigue in a time of immense increased computer screen usage can be challenging. Nowadays, it seems like a significant amount of our daily life is spent in front of computer screens either for work, school or entertainment. Unfortunately, eye fatigue can result in eye irritation (dry eye), headaches, blurred vision, disrupted sleep, and even pain or strain in the neck, shoulders, or back.

Here are three things you can do to avoid eye fatigue:

The 20/20/20 Rule

At Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses we advise our patients that every 20 minutes, they should take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away. Since eye fatigue or eye strain is the result of spending too much time focusing on a single task, by looking away more frequently, you allow the little muscle in your eyes to get a break and relax. This can protect the eyes from fatigue and distance blur at the end of the day.

Blue Light Blockers

Computers, tablets, and other mobile devices with screens emit blue light. Blue light blockers can help with eye fatigue, sleep patterns, and potentially protect your eyes long term from the constant computer light reaching the back of your eye. Basically, you protect your eyes in the same way you do when you wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays.

The blue light emitted by digital devices can affect sleep patterns because it reduces our ability to produce melatonin, also referred to as the sleep hormone. This is a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain, which is sometimes also called our  “third eye.” Melatonin levels in our blood are higher at night in order to promote sleep and control our circadian rhythm. Lenses with blue light filters can help block the blue light and assist our body in maintaining normal production of melatonin, in addition to reducing eye fatigue/strain and headaches.  

Remembering to blink is a very simple but effective piece of advice. Whenever we focus, especially when we are using computers, reading, or concentrating, we stare. When we stare we don’t blink and often when we do blink, we do a half blink. When our eyelids close all the way down the mechanical force of the eyelids touching helps release oils from the meibomian glands that surround our upper and lower eyelids. The oil keeps tears from evaporating and prevents our eyes from drying out. When we don’t blink routinely, these glands start to atrophy causing long-term atrophy to meibomian glands (meibomian gland dysfunction).

If you’d like more information about eye fatigue or eye strain, contact us online or schedule an appointment with Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses.

Can Our Diet Improve Our Eye Health?

vegetables, carrot, food that helps eye health

We often hear people say that they eat certain foods to help their heart or strengthen bones or because it’s beneficial to their overall health. Why then shouldn’t we also choose to eat certain foods to maintain and improve our eye health? Even the youngest children will tell you that if you eat your carrots, you will have good eyesight. Most people don’t realize that optimal eye health starts with the food we choose to consume. We tend to take the health of our eyes for granted, especially when we are young and have good vision, but we should all be aware that by eating healthy today, we may be able to prevent issues with our eyesight in the future.

Nutrients That Can Boost Eye Health

It has been scientifically documented that nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and vitamins C and E may aid in delaying the progression of age-related vision problems like macular degeneration, cataracts and vision loss. You can take supplements or can add foods rich in these nutrients to help maintain and boost your eye health. 

Nutrient-Rich Foods That Can Promote Eye Health 

Some of the foods that are rich in nutrients to help your eye health include:

  • Vegetables: usually any dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, swiss chard, mustard greens and collards. In addition, you can add carrots, broccoli, peas and avocados which are also rich in antioxidants.
  • Fish: Fatty fish which are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, trout, mackerel, herring or tuna.
  • Protein: Non-meat foods rich in protein such as eggs, nuts or beans (which are also more economical than meat protein).
  • Fruit: Citrus fruit like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and mandarins which are rich in vitamin C.
  • Berries: Like citrus fruits, berries are high in vitamin C but also in antioxidants.
  • Whole grains: Switch from refined carbohydrates to quinoa, brown rice, whole oats and whole-wheat breads and pasta.
  • Legumes: Aside from being high in protein and carbohydrates, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, peanuts and lentils are good sources of bioflavonoids and zinc.
  • Meat: Lean pork and beef, in moderation, can also help your eye health since pork contains lutein and zeaxanthin, and beef contains zinc and fat, which helps us absorb fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A in carrots.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

Most of us know that we have to have a well-balanced diet to stay healthy and maintain our weight. However, not many of us remember that if we don’t maintain a healthy weight and become obese, we increase the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, which is one of  the leading causes of blindness in adults.

Similarly, a poor diet, or one that contains large amounts of highly processed and high-fat foods can increase the possibility of eye problems. Also, not drinking enough water during the day can cause dehydration, which may lead to chronic vision and eye conditions such as dry eyes.

We have to learn how to protect our eyes before our eyesight starts to deteriorate. We need to become aware of the important nutrients we should include in our diet to prevent problems since nutrition is an excellent form of preventative medicine. By maintaining a balanced diet with the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables, we can help protect our eye health.

If you would like more information about the importance of diet and eye health contact us or schedule an appointment with Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses.