supplements

Ultraviolet radiation and myopia

Ultraviolet radiation and myopia

I feel like writing another article about the possible benefits of something we’ve all heard is bad for us. Ultraviolet radiation (UV) sounds bad. Maybe because of the word radiation (not a bad word though) and then maybe all the news warning us about UV exposure. I’ve had many sunburns and believe it’s contributed to a couple of skin problems I’ve had so I believe the redness and pain associated with sunburns is a pretty obvious sign of too much sun. As a kid in the 70’s I remember putting zinc oxide on my nose. It was a thick bright white cream that definitely was noticeable. I wish I had a picture of that when I was sitting on the lifeguard stand watching all the other kids get their UV (and chlorine) exposure at the pool.

You’ve got to wonder though how our species ever survived with that constant stream of the suns rays just bearing down on us all the time. Scientists have divided up that UV band of radiation into 3 forms….A, B and C. A is the least harmful and C is the worst but C doesn’t even reach us because the atmosphere’s ozone absorbs that band. Why did we even call it UV-C if it doesn’t reach us? We can create UV-C ourselves through welding however. See the chart at the end showing the UV ranges.

One huge benefit of UV exposure is our body uses it to produce vitamin D. We can also get vitamin D from other sources and you’ll find plenty of foods supplemented with vitamin D. That just makes me wonder why all the news about vitamin D deficiency. I have read that too much UV-B exposure can actually destroy vitamin D production but that article I read didn’t say if that was 1% destroyed or 100%. That’s what bothers me about some of the information we get unless you dig further in the research. And this is where I think some organizations have gone too far with their warnings. They make the sun sound like it’s horrible! Too much of anything isn’t good for you but articles talking about avoiding UV just seem wrong. Life wouldn’t exist without it. Too much vitamin D supplementation isn’t good either….that’s toxic. Do they talk about that? Rarely. Instead of warnings, we should talk about moderation.

Here’s another thing I’ve been interested in regarding UV radiation. Most of the contact lenses I prescribe have an FDA approved UV blocking agent in the lenses. I don’t know when that all started. Since I don’t wear contact lenses and neither do most other people, will those that wear these UV filtering contact lenses be better off than the rest of us? And then there are glasses that have UV protecting effects. Will people that wear glasses be better off when the results of UV accumulation over a lifetime are more obvious regarding diseases attributed to UV exposure? I do wear sunglasses outside….sometimes. Most sunglasses, even cheap ones, block practically all UV radiation and our car windshields block that as well. I’d like to know how I can measure my lifetime UV exposure. Have I exceeded it? How can I possibly know if I have a little left over so I can go play outside?

But there’s one more thing that is interesting about the possible benefits of UV exposure…in children. It’s thought that the outdoors might provide some protective effects against myopia development. That means some very credible studies are finding the sun is good for kids. There’s even at least one study that shows that UV exposure may provide a certain protective effect against myopia. Instead of “protective” can I say benefit?

I say get outside and enjoy whatever weather you’ve got. Put down the ipads and back off the consoles and let me put up a permanent basketball goal at my house! The kids need to be outside more!

Here’s a study about UV and myopia.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22669720

 

UV graphic

UV graphic

 

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Gluten free vision

Gluten free vision

That title got your attention? May I suggest not even reading the rest of this because I couldn’t find any valid report that implicates gluten causing vision problems. But if you search google for “gluten vision” you’ll find plenty of stories where people will say their vision improved by reducing or eliminating gluten from their diet. If I weren’t an eye doctor I might not know what to believe because all the top results are about how gluten might have been the cause of their visual symptoms. And think about this. How many people go past the first page of google results to find the scientific evidence or even want to read it? Top google results are there because the webpage is popular.

I’ll write just a little about gluten and a little about vision nutrition now because if you got past the first paragraph I really didn’t want to end without something a little interesting to read. Regarding gluten, as you know it comes from grains like wheat. It’s the “glue” that makes the dough stick together I’ve read. It’s also found in some make-up like lipstick so don’t eat that! Celiac disease is caused by a part of gluten called gliadin and some people also have a sensitivity to the different proteins in gluten. ¬†And, in case you drink beer, hops do not contain gluten! Hops are flowers. But most beers contain some amount of gluten.

Let me say a couple of things about nutrition for the eyes. The proper nutrition for normal healthy eyes is…..

a balanced diet.

And please vary your diet! Nothing more boring than the same ‘ol thing. Really, eat vegetables. Farmers don’t grow them because they’re bad for you.

Oh, you can buy and eat whatever you want or let some official looking website or product label convince you of the need for supplementing your diet. There are companies that sell supplements for vision! Really. If you have macular degeneration or dry eye then maybe you could benefit from some specific supplements. But come on! You’re probably normal and healthy. How did our ancestor’s bodies ever work 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago and longer without all these people trying to tell you take take some herb or some silly pill?

I have normal healthy patients tell me they are taking vitamins (and supplements) so I ask them if they were diagnosed with some deficiency. I’m talking about all those multivitamin and specific supplements including those targeting your eyes and vision. Please, don’t be silly and buy them unless you’ve been to a registered dietician. But it is hard to go against the market isn’t it or what your friends tell you or even what your mom recommends or used to do. Even some doctors get all worked up about vitamins and supplements. Taking vitamins and supplements is just the norm it seems. It’s like trying to ward off the evil spirits using garlic. I know, we all have fears but like most things, there’s nothing lurking there. It’s just you and fear.

vitamin1

 

Simple wheat diagram

wheatdiagram

 

 

 

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