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Easy on the eyes

Ruidoso News (NM)


May 03--Life is hard on the eyes.

Like so many others, I've been suffering with allergies lately, and the red, puffy eyes looking back at me in the mirror are anything but pretty. Some might say it's because of all the late night dancing... but that's a story for another day. It's allergies, I tell you, allergies.

Our eyes and the skin around them are so very delicate, yet these are among the most vulnerable parts of our anatomy. Our eyes are consistently exposed to smoke, airborne pollutants and allergens, the dry New Mexico climate, the bright high desert sun, and whatever the wind blows in. I heard someone the other day refer to us as "White Sands North" because of all the gypsum that blows our way.

And it's not just the environment that takes its toll on our eyes... Stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, too much caffeine, too long at the computer, late night dancing (it's allergies, I tell you) all contribute to redness, swelling, puffiness, and pain.

Not to mention the ravages of time... All that squinting, blinking, and smiling we do leads to crow's feet. I prefer to call them "expression lines." (I refuse to use that other word...)

So I, for one, don't want to miss seeing and enjoying the world around me, either because my eyes are hurting or because I'm in a bad mood because my eyes are hurting. So what can we do to make life easier on our eyes? Here are some tips that may help.

Improve your nutritional habits. Foods which contain beta carotene, most notably

carrots and sweet potatoes, reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Foods high in vitamin C are also good for the eyes: broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts. Omega-3's protect tiny blood vessels in the eyes, so include salmon and sardines in your diet plan. Avoid too much caffeine. Substituting white tea and green tea can help reduce dark spots and circles under the eyes.

Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to darkness, puffiness, and dullness of the skin around the eyes. De-stress your life as much as you can.

Avoid wearing contact lenses more than 18 hours. Avoid sleeping with contacts in unless they are meant to be worn that way. Don't wear glasses for too long either. Your eyes need oxygen and a break from corrective lenses. Consider Lasik surgery to eliminate your need for corrective lenses.

Always wear UV protective sunglasses when you're out in the sun. Damage from UV exposure builds up over a lifetime, so make sure your children and grandchildren wear good sunglasses too. Goggles should also be worn when working with chemicals or when harmful particulates are present.

Avoid staring too long at your computer screen. We blink less when we look at a screen, so our eyes dry out.

Make a conscious effort to blink more often.

The glare on the screen also causes muscle fatigue in the eyes.

Be aware of lighting. Don't read in dim light, which causes unnecessary eye strain. Also, don't look directly at bright lights nor the sun.

If you use allergen-reducing eye drops to relieve itchiness during allergy season, be careful. These drops work by restricting blood flow to the cornea, so even though you get temporary relief, you're also reducing oxygen flow to your eyes. In the long run, eye drops can do more harm than good.

Never rub your eyes. The skin around the eyes is extremely delicate, reactive, and contains few oil glands, making it vulnerable to any kind of pressure.

Investigate products that will help with fine lines, puffiness, and dark circles. Retinol can help treat and prevent lines. Applying products which contain caffeine can help increase the skin's circulation.

Products containing haloxyl and vitamin K can help decrease darkness under the eyes. Creams which contain antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) can help strengthen, rebuild, and tone the skin under the eyes.

Cold cucumber slices on the eyes really do help with puffiness, because they contain asobric acid and caffeic acid, both of which prevent water retention. Moistened green tea bags can also help, as green tea contains tannins which help reduce inflammation.

Last, but not least, make regular visits to an optometrist. Your optometrist can detect conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or retinal damage which affect the health of your eyes.

Like it or not, our beautiful, sensitive, vulnerable eyes are the first to reveal the stresses of life. So go easy on the eyes, lest you miss life's spectacular views.


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