We may not think about it often, but our eyes are critical to so many of our life experiences. First, there are the practical aspects. Our vision allows us to perform everyday tasks, such as making breakfast, sending an email or driving to the store. But as the old saying goes “seeing is believing.” With sight we’re also triggered to think, see the world in different ways and experience beauty. For most of us, our eyes are our lens to the universe, so making sure they stay healthy is just as important as taking care of any other part of our body.
It’s our brains that physically allow us to see, but our eyes are the ultimate information gatherers. They collect colors, shapes and movement and send the signals to our brain to process, resulting in an image. Our eyes work hard, so proper eye nutrients are essential to our diet. Read on to learn more about how our eyes work and what we can do to take care of our vision.
How it Works
The eye is like a camera. The lens of the camera allows light through, focuses it and helps capture an image. In simple terms, that’s what our eyes are doing.
The front part of our eye is a clear dome called a cornea, which bends (or refracts) light to allow it to enter into the eye. Just behind the cornea is the iris and pupil. The iris is the colored part of the eye, and the pupil is the black circle in the middle of the iris. The iris changes shape to control how much light to let in through the pupil. Ultimately the refracted light is focused by a lens and then projected onto the retina. When light hits the retina, signals are sent through the optic nerve to the brain, resulting in an image.
The best way to care for your eyes is to incorporate annual eye exams into your routine.
Just like how a camera has many interior parts that allow for images to be captured reliably, the eye is much more than a lens. Our eyes are filled with vitreous humor, a jelly-like material that nourishes the structure of the eye, giving it shape and supporting the retina. Fluid keeps the eye moist and protects it. A series of muscles and fibers allow our eyes to physically function.
What You Can Do
The best way to care for your eyes is to incorporate annual eye exams into your routine. It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses, which will protect your eyes from the sun’s bright rays. Depending on the nature of your work you might consider protective eyewear or giving your eyes regular breaks from staring at a screen. A healthy diet is also important. Vegetables, including dark leafy greens have been shown to support eye health, according to the National Eye Institute1. And finally, you can get even further support with supplements.** Here are some of our most popular supplements for eye health.**
Carotenoids are plant-based antioxidants that give plants their pigment.** The macula of the eye contains carotenoid pigments such as lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. Macula pigments are responsible for supporting the health of the eye’s photoreceptor cell layer, which is why carotenoid levels are so important.**
Taking care of your eyes has always been important, but as technology becomes more and more a part of our daily lives, we’re challenging our eyes like never before. As the principal carotenoid found in the macula, a central area of the retina, lutein plays a big role in supporting healthy vision.** Specifically, lutein helps filter out the damaging blue light we expose ourselves to when using computers.**
Beta carotene is also part of the carotenoid family and essential for good eyesight.** Prevalent in vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and spinach, it readily converts to Vitamin A as it is needed. Beta carotene is also one of the best antioxidants available to promote health, and also plays a role in supporting the immune system and maintaining skin health.**
Bilberry is also known as the European blueberry and has been widely known to herbalists since the 16th century. British Royal Air Force pilots used to consume bilberries before flying in the dark during World War II. And today people continue to turn to this plant to support eye health based on its historical traditional practices.**