Nina Jani

Ask the Expert

Author by Nisha Jani

Ask the Expert

The new year is fully upon us. It’s a new chance to progress with our goals – and for many of us, one of those goals is better health. So while you load up on protein shakes and extra daal, buy those new running shoes, and sign up for that spin class, don’t forget about your vision health. Asians (notably South & East Asians) are genetically and environmentally susceptible to poor vision. Be it from our genes or from the excessive hours spent in front of computer screens and textbooks, our vulnerability must be combated with proper precautionary habits.

Take time to be good to your eyes. Eat well, stay hydrated, and rest often. We must take care of our vision now, so we may continue to see the new years ahead.

What kinds of foods are important for vision health?
All of us have heard our moms tell us to eat carrots because it’s “good for your eyes.” It’s true; they’re packed with beta-carotene, a type of Vitamin A. The best way to reap the benefits is to balance it out with leafy greens such as spinach or kale, and eggs. All of these contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that act as natural sunblock. They also slow down macular degeneration and cataract formation. If you eat fish, salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon aids in prevention of age-related macular degeneration and relieves severe eye dryness. Not a fan of fish? Try incorporating olive oil into your cooking, free of trans fat and low in saturated fat. Other foods you can try include nuts, corn, and dark berries.

A lot of my work involves a computer screen. What can I do for my eyes?
Unfortunately there’s not much we can do about the nature of our tasks at work or school. However, you can practice eye exercises that can relieve the eye strain that comes with reading in poor light and staring at screens. Every 20 minutes, close your eyes for 20 seconds. This can help with rewetting the corneal surface and bring moisture to your eyes. Be aware that as we concentrate on a screen or book, we tend to blink less often, increasing dryness and irritation. Take frequent eye breaks from your work and focus on an object in the distance, blinking often. To help relieve muscular tension behind the eyes, at bedtime quietly look up, down, and side to side holding for about 10 seconds each position.

I wear a lot of makeup, is this okay?
Whether over long wedding weekends, at social outings, or at work, many of us wear makeup. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as we take steps to remove it all at the end of the day. Be sure to do some research before venturing to the makeup store. Find brands that are organic, chemical-free, or just hypoallergenic. Replace your mascara and eyeliner every 2-3 months. Bacteria will deposit and grow after frequent use of the applicator, so wash your brushes every so often. If you wear contacts, remove your contacts, then remove your eye makeup using a quality makeup remover or warm water and soap. Remember to take “days-off”! Go makeup free, and treat your eyes to warm compresses. Ophthalmologists often recommend a drop of baby shampoo to clean the eyelids and eyelashes 1-2 times a week.

I want to preserve the health of my eyes and prevent damage. What else can I do?
Simple. Be good to your eyes! Pamper them like you pamper your hair and nails. Your eyes are working every second of the day, even at night during your deeper sleep cycles. So don’t miss annual vision check-ups – you and your doctor need to stay on top of any signs of premature degeneration. It also helps to buy a pair of quality sunglasses. Excessive UV light from the sun can damage the tissues in the eyelids and the lens, leading to cataracts and certain cancers. Be sure to get enough rest. Lack of sleep can actually make worse a modern condition termed Computer Vision Syndrome, which includes dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, neck and back pain. Head massages with essential oils can help alleviate these symptoms and promote wakefulness.

About the Expert:
Nisha Jani earned a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and Sports Medicine from the University of Miami, where she also studied psychology and kinesiology. She currently pursues athletic training & strength conditioning, while working full time in cardiology. Nisha’s expertise in exercise and physiology fuel her lifelong passions of dance, fitness, and teaching. She is passionate about bringing awareness to the community about the benefits of preventative medicine in the form of exercise and diet, favoring a holistic approach to well-being.

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