Eye Health Throughout Life: Part 1
Dr. Teri Hines from View Optometry and Dr. Annie Savage from Bay Wellness Centre here. To celebrate National Nutrition Month we have teamed up to create a series of blog posts regarding eye health throughout your lifespan! We created 3 articles that we’re going to post weekly in March about eye development and eye health. We’re really excited to be working together to provide well-rounded preventive care to our patients and our audiences. We’ll start by explaining how the eye works, then move throughout the stages of life regarding eye health. We’ve provided nutrition tips and preventive care at each stage! Welcome to part one.
How the eye works...
The eye is basically like a movie camera, filming everything you see providing images to your brain. Light comes through the cornea and lens of the eye and is directed to the retina at the back of the eye (which functions like camera film). It transforms the image into electrical pulses and sends it to the brain by the optic nerve.
In the beginning...
Eye development takes place in between weeks 3 and 10 during gestation. Babies actually learn to see when they are born, just as they learn to walk and talk. For example, at birth, infants cannot tell the difference between two targets or two images and their primary focus is 8-10 inches from their face - typically their mom and dad. In the first two months of life, their eyes wander and may cross as they learn to focus. Around 3 months of age they begin to reach for different objects. It is important at this stage to protect the baby’s sensitive eyes as they learn to use them.
Breastfed and formula fed babies will get all of the nutrients they need from either source - but more on that below.
To protect and nurture your infant’s eyesight:
- Birth to four months:
- Use nightlights and dim lighting in baby’s room
- Keep reach-and-touch toys within reach (8-12 inches)
- Alternate left and right sides while breastfeeding
- Five to eight months:
- Hang a mobile above the crib
- Nine to twelve months:
- Play hide and seek games with toys and yourself to help develop visual memory
Occasionally eye health problems can occur; it’s important to know what to look for and what to do. Consult your optometrist if you notice any of the following:
- Excessive tearing
- Red or crusted eyelids
- Constant eye turning
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Appearance of a white pupil
Optimal nutrition is the ultimate foundation for a healthy life! By providing your infant with the proper diet, full of nutrients, you can ensure healthy growth and development (not just for vision, but everything!). When breastfeeding, a healthy mom means a healthy baby – so make sure you’re still eating healthy for two and continue to take your prenatal vitamin throughout lactation.
- A well-balanced diet rich in leafy green vegetables can prevent many ocular diseases
- Omega-3 fatty acids, found in flaxseeds, fish, and avocados are good for relieving dry eyes and protecting against inflammation
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin are antioxidants found in spinach and kale - they are good for the health of your retina
- Vitamin C is a great antioxidant – kiwis are the highest fruit source of vitamin C
- Vitamin A helps create pigment called melanin which is great for protecting your retina
- Zinc is needed to help your body absorb vitamin A - Zinc can be found in turkey, eggs, peanuts, whole grains, and oysters (not Dr. Hines’ favorite seafood)
Thank you for reading our blog! Stay tuned for next week! We will be educating you about eye heath for children and adults.