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Bright Eye Basics

Author: Pam Strickland
Source: Health, July/August 2006

Researchers now think healthy food and lifestyle choices (whether it’s quitting smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, or eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables that have eye-healthy antioxidants) improve the odds that your eyes will look their best and brighest. Those good choices can also help you avoid or delay eye problems that sometimes occur later in life, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and cataracts.

How important is eating right? A National Eye Institute study showed that a specific combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants reduced AMD risk by 25 percent for some people. The combo: 400 IU of vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta-carotene, 80 mg zinc, and 2 mg copper. Giacomina Massaro-Giordano, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Scheie Eye Institute, also recommends carotenoids (like lutein and zeaxanthin) and antioxidants such as vitamins A,C, and E, which help protect the retina from the damaging effects of the sun. For the veggie-averse, a supplement might be the answer.

Regular eye checkups are essential to good eye and whole-body health, says ophthalmologist Susan Stenson, MD, clinical professor at New York University School of Medicine. Many health conditions (high blood pressure and diabetes, for example) have a major impact on your eyes, she says. “By treating the disease,” she adds, “you’re protecting your eyes.”

3 Things To Keep Out Of Your Eyes

Spit – Yes, you’ve been desperate and wet a contact lens with spit once or twice. But that was back in junior high when you didn’t know better. Now you do. Carry a purse-sized bottle of rewetting solution with you.

Old Makeup – The shelf life for eye-area cosmetics is shorter than that of other products because of the risk of eye infections. Replace mascara and eyeliner every 3 months, and all other eye makeups and creams every 6 months. If you have an eye infection, stop using all eye products, discard those you were using, and see your eye doctor. And never share eye makeup or try samples at the cosmetic counter.

Chemicals – Better geeky than sorry: Wear safety glasses when you’re using cleaners or spray painting. If a chemical gets in your eye, wash it out with cool running water (keep your good eye upstream). If wearing contacts, remove them, rinse again, and head to doctor.