What we feed our bodies feeds our eyes.

Many of the vitamins and minerals in our bodies are found in much higher concentrations in our eyes, so a diet lacking in these vitamins and minerals can lead to vision problems as we grow older.

Take the time every day to give your eyes (and the rest of your body) the nutritive support they need.

Eat the foods and take the supplements that provide the antioxidant vitamins and minerals your eyes require.

You’ll Protect Your Eyesight, ensuring years of good eye health, and increasing the odds that you’ll avoid blindness or vision loss for the rest of your life.

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Table of Contents

Lifestyle Causes Myopia, Not Genes


Contrary to popular belief, people in east Asia are no more genetically susceptible to short-sightedness than any other population group, according to researchers who have analysed past studies of the problem.

The epidemics of myopia in countries such as Singapore and Japan are due solely to changes in lifestyle, they say, and similar levels could soon be seen in many western countries as lifestyles there continue to change.

"As kids spend more time indoors, on computers or watching TV, we are going to become just as myopic," says Ian Morgan of the Australian National University in Canberra.

Myopia is on the increase in most places, but in countries such as Singapore it has reached extraordinary levels. There, 80 percent of 18-year-old male army recruits are myopic, up from 25 percent just 30 years ago.

Employers such as the police are having problems finding people who meet their requirements. There is also an increasing incidence of extreme myopia, which can lead to blindness.

There is little doubt about at least one underlying cause. Children now spend much of their time focusing on close objects, such as books and computers. To compensate the eyeball is thought to grow longer. That way less effort is needed to focus up close, but the elongated eye can no longer focus on distant objects.

Playing Sports

And it looks as if those lifestyle changes are beginning to be felt in some western countries too. In Sweden, for instance, 50 per cent of children aged 12 now have myopia. It is expected that when these children reach 18 the rate will be more than 70 per cent.

"It is an impressive piece of work," says Karla Zadnik of Ohio State University College of Optometry in Columbus. But if the increase really is due to too much reading, she points out, then lenses that eliminate the stress of focusing on near work should help stop myopia getting any worse. In fact, studies show the lenses are of little help.

But that might be because we have not identified all the lifestyle factors involved, including ones that protect against myopia, says Morgan. For example, children who read less also tend to spend more time outdoors, where better light may reduce the need to focus precisely for near vision. Studies show that children who play sport are less susceptible to myopia.

One group of researchers has even proposed that diet is one of the factors contributing to the rise in myopia. They argue that eating too much refined starch affects the growth of the eyeball (New Scientist print edition, 6 April 2002).

Eye Development

But even if there are no big differences between population groups, genetic studies are important, says Christopher Hammond of St Thomas' Hospital in London. There might be some people whose vision remains perfect whatever their lifestyle.

"If we can identify the genes involved, we have a better chance of understanding the mechanisms involved and developing treatments," he points out.

In a study of 506 pairs of twins, Hammond found that when you take environment out of the equation, genes account for 87 per cent of the variation in short and long-sightedness. The team has identified several genes that may be involved, including PAX-6, which is known to be important in the development of the eye.

Protect Your eyes, Your Eyes will thank you.

Vision Tip of the Month: Wash Your Hands

By washing your hands and not touching your eyes frequently, you can greatly reduce your risk of eye infections. Be sure to wash your hands often during the day and keep them away from your eyes.

And Use Contrast...

If you notice that you are having trouble seeing, try to add contrast to poorly lit places. Putting a dark piece of tape on a lightly colored step can make a big difference in judging the step accurately. Increasing the difference between light and dark colors in your home can help you avoid falls and continue to function normally.

Vision Facts of the Month

* It's estimated that up to 8% of boys have some degree of color blindness, whereas less than 1% of girls have the same condition.

* MYTH: If you cross your eyes, they'll stay that way.

* FACT: No, contrary to the old saying, children's eyes will not stay that way if they cross them.


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