by Sukhmani Kaur
A new month, March, has arrived and with it has awareness of a number of important diseases that affect our lives on a daily basis. March is important for more than a few reasons including; Save Your Vision Month, National Nutrition Month, National Kidney Month, National Endometriosis Awareness Month, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Trisomy Awareness Month, National Cheerleader Safety Month, and National Problem Gambling Awareness Month. All of these issues are important for a healthy family, but for school young adults the importance of “Save Your Vision” month cannot be overemphasized.
“Save your vision” month is organized by the American Optometric Association in March of each year to emphasize that all Americans should seek and get a comprehensive eye exam to make sure their eyes and vision are the healthiest that they can be. One eye problem that has become dominant in today’s society is “Digital Eye Strain.” Since the use of computers and hand held devices has become pervasive in our society, the risk of eye strain and damage has grown exponentially. This month also focuses on employers such as Hathaway Brown to stress the importance of eye care for their employees including teachers.
Many of use computers in a continued and persistent manner for hours at end. People who use computers for long stretches of time complain about eye strain, pain behind the eyes, dry eyes, and blurry vision. While, it may not be possible to cut down on “monitor” time, it is possible to decrease eye fatigue. First, it is important to get regular eye exams. Next, it is important to take regular breaks when using the computer for prolonged periods of time. Get up, walk to a window, and look outside to give the eyes a rest. A few minutes away from a monitor can be extremely refreshing. Another problem that comes with using computers routinely is that people forget to blink. This lack of blinking can cause dry eyes which can lead to eye discomfort and tearing. So while you are working at a computer, remember to blink or just close your eyes for a few seconds. If this does not work, then buying a humidifier or getting artificial tears and using them two to three times a day will decrease the feeling of dryness in your eyes. It is also important to position the computer screen about 20 inches from the eyes, keeping the top of the monitor slightly tilted below the eye level. A dirty monitor can decrease clarity and increase the strain on the eyes. Finally, eating fresh fruits and vegetables especially those with anti-oxidants helps to maintain the health of your eyes. Some of the important minerals and anti-oxidants are:
Lutein and Zeaxanthin found in eggs, kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, garden peas and Brussels sprouts.
Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) found in red berries, kiwi, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and guava, grapefruit, and orange.
Vitamin E found in vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocados, wheat germ, and whole grains
Vitamin A & Beta-Carotene found in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, eggs, and green leafy vegetables.
Essential Fatty Acids found in salmon, sardines, flax seeds, soybeans, and walnuts.
Zinc found in poultry, oysters and other seafood, nuts, dried beans, soy foods, milk and other dairy products, whole grains, and fortified breakfast cereals.
To decrease eye strain and keep your vision 20/20, remember the three basics: Blink your eyes every 20 minutes, Breathe and look at something 20 feet away, and take a break for 20 seconds. Remember to get a regular eye exam for yourself and also remind the busy people in your home to get an eye exam. Let’s get our vision better before 2020!