Healthy Eyes, Healthy Body: Simple Tips for Optimum Eye Health
Do you often think of holistic health – body and mind – when you hear the words “eye care?” Whether you associate eye health with holistic heath, your eyes are a crucial part of wellness. Dr. Farnaz Khankhanian (“Dr. K”), optometrist and owner of Eagle Vision in Carson City, provides insight into the importance of eye health and its impact on the overall health of the body.
“[The eyes] are not just a window to your soul – they’re a window to your body,” Dr. Khankhanian said.
In order to ensure not only optimum eye health – but also holistic health of the body – Dr. Khankhanian recommends comprehensive annual eye exams, starting at the age of 3. Along with eye-related conditions, eye doctors are able to detect other health issues during a comprehensive eye exam. Dr. Khankhanian often works with ophthalmologists, primary care physicians and internal medicine doctors, providing referrals to these specialists because of the potential health risks discovered during a patient’s eye exam, which can include:
- Diabetes: Diabetes affects the small capillaries in the retina of the eyes. These blood vessels may leak blood or a yellowish fluid.
- Hypertension: Blood vessels in the eye may exhibit bends or tears, a possible indication of high blood pressure.
- High cholesterol: The cornea may have a yellowish appearance or ring around it, or there may be plaque in the blood vessels of the retina.
- Thyroid disease: Bulging eyes or protruding eyeballs may indicate thyroid disease.
- Cancer: Ocular melanoma can develop in the cells that make pigmentation in the eye.
- Tumors: Droopy eyelids or oddly-shaped pupils could indicate a neck tumor or an aneurism.
Interestingly, a comprehensive eye exam can also help determine if a patient has ankylosing spondylitis (AS), which is a form of arthritis that affects the spine. AS is most prevalent in men, but women aren’t immune to the disease. Women are more prone to dry eye. People with dry eye experience irritated, scratchy or burning eyes, and allergy season and the arid Nevada desert certainly do not help this condition. Before heading to the pharmacy to self-treat an eye irritation, make an appointment with an optometrist. Over-the-counter eye drops contain preservatives and chemicals that may not be beneficial for your eyes long term. “Before you self-treat, let someone look at you,” Dr. Khankhanian said.
In order to take care of your eyes – and your body – Dr. Khankhanian recommends that you:
Eat right. It’s not all about carrots. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale or collard greens. Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut, is also beneficial for eye health.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes and other conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.
Don’t smoke. Smoking is linked to an increased risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage, which can lead to blindness.
Wear your shades. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Wear sunglasses that block out 99-100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.
Give your eyes a rest. Are you at the computer all day? Try the 20-20-20 rule to reduce eye strain: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
When was the last time you had an eye exam? If it’s been a few years since you had your eyes dilated, don’t fret. An eye exam is a relatively simple procedure, and your eye doctor will examine your medical history, visual acuity, pupils, side vision, eye movement, prescription for corrective lenses, eye pressure, front portion of the eye, retina and optic nerve.
For more information about eye health, call Dr. Khankhanian at Eagle Vision at 775-267-2012 or visit www.CarsonEagleVision.com.