Here are a few tips on how to take care of your eyes:
There are a number of eye diseases that the basic problem is blood flow. These diseases include Diabetic retinopathy, branch and central vein and artery occlusions (BRVO, CRVO), age related macular degeneration (ARMD) and hypertensive retinopathy. Here the slowing or stoppage of the blood flow causes problems. It stands to reason that habits that affect blood flow in the body may make a difference in the outcomes in treating these diseases. For example: drinking sodas (carbonated beverages, diet or regular) have an effect on the kidney causing the average blood pressure to rise about 10-15 points. This has been shown in some studies to be effective in progressing the diabetic retinopathy. The poorest outcome of macular degeneration is also associated with the highest blood pressure. The circulatory system of the body is the only system that allows us to be as large as we are and without it we could not be bigger than an amoeba! So be kind to your body, do not drink any carbonated beverages. While we are at it, the next habit that has one of the greatest impact on all the blood vessels of the body is smoking. Most of us now recognise that this habit alone makes up on the biggest influence on heart disease as well as the other risks. It also is interesting to note that in some patients, Covid-19 seems to attack the blood vessels in the body causing clotting and damage to major organs of the body. Recent sucessful efforts to use blood thinners is evidence to support this theory.
Habitual eye rubbing
We do not have a lot of data on how much the habitual rubbing of the eyes does to the eye health but it is obvious that it is not good for the eyes. It is associated with increasing myopia (nearsighted), keratoconus (abnormal thinning of the cornea), allergies, retinal detachments, lattice degeneration and dislocated intraocular lenses. There is nothing good about chronically deforming the delicate structure of the eye with your fingers. Don’t do it! It is a bad habit and difficult to stop. I used to work at a major hospital in a very large city that saw an incredible amount of infections of the eyes. Most residents eventually caught the eye infections from their patients that they were treating. I realized that not touching my face throughout the day and washing my hands frequently might give me a fighting chance in this dirty environment. I was the only one to survive my training without acquiring an infection from my patients. Now in the era of Covid-19, it is especially important not to touch your face. I also noted that my progressive myopia stopped (quit becoming more nearsighted). I only needed one laser treatment for lattice degeneration (retinal thinning) to prevent a retinal detachment 30 years ago and none since stopping the rubbing. I constantly get patients referred that had dislocated lenses years after cataract surgery and usually find out that they are chronic eye rubbers. The circumstantial evidence is huge against rubbing the eyes. Stopping the habit costs nothing and may save a lot of grief!
Improve eye lid hygiene by washing your face at night before bed time. If there is a serious dry eye problem or recurrent eye lid infections, many doctors recommend washing the eye lids with a drop of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (the “no tears” kind) on the corner of a washcloth, rinse it off and then heat the cloth with hot water, wring it out and lay the cloth over the closed eyes. Repeat the heating of the cloth with hot water and wring it out, placing in on the eyes to get 5 minutes of hot heat on the lids with out burning yourself. This is referred as “lid scrubs and warm compresses”. It is not a bad habit to do once a day as a routine. For patients that need frequent injections in the eyes, it reduces the risk of getting an infection on the next injection or surgery.
Vitamins for the eyes: So far the only specific vitamin recommended for eye health that has been proven to slow the macular degeneration in patients that actually have vision loss from this disease is Preservision AREDS2 (two tablets a day) as that was used in the study with the good results. It has not been proven to help people that do not have macular degeneration or relatives of patients that have macular degeneration but do not carry the diagnosis of Age Related Macular Degeneration. The best recommendation for the relatives may be a over the counter multivitamin (one a day) and taking care of your heart (no sodas, no smoking, diet and regular exercise etc.). Not getting older would be the ultimate preventative measure but the fountain of youth has not been found yet!
Covid-19: Apparently someone with a lot of time to kill discovered that we humans touch our face about 200 times a day. This is 200 events that could pick up a virus from a door handle or other surface we touch then we touch the eyes or face and transfer it there. This is why washing our hands frequently reduces the likelihood of transmission to ourselves and others. A long time ago, I used to work in the emergency room taking call for eye emergencies. We saw a lot of eye infections. I quickly developed the habit of washing my face in the morning and then never touching it again unless I had washed my hands. We feel so strongly about hand washing that when we renovated our office, we cut the floors to lay in plumbing in order to place hand washing sinks in all the exam rooms. Washing hands is a hard habit to pick up but nowadays we must do it to prevent picking up a virus!
– Dr”V” –