The most fascinating mystery is how to turn on cells to regenerate our retinas when they degenerate. There are certain fish and amphibians that constantly regrow their retinas, just like a lizard may regrow its tail when it gets cut off. Well, guess what? In our eyes, we have those same cells that regrow in fish and amphibians. These are a type of adult stem cell that we all have in our own eyes, and if we could figure out how to jump-start them, then we could use our own stem cells to maintain the health of our retinas.
Do you recommend eye vitamins?
Patients often ask me about taking eye vitamins. Nutrition for the eye can be a complex solution and you need to balance your nutrients-not too much and not too little-but make sure that you get enough of the ones you need. Unlike pills, whole foods often naturally have a broad complex spectrum of vitamins and nutrients that work in tandem and we don’t know enough about all those interactions to mimic them in pills. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to pills.
What about the role of exercise in eye health? What exercises can you do that help your eyes?
There are many health benefits of exercise. Increasing your blood flow is one of the top health benefits and a research study that came out this year showed that being physically active over a 20-year period decreases your risk of having poor vision by a whopping 60%! Exercise is really about keeping your health in tip-top shape. Combined with nutrition, it is a simple and powerful tool to healthy vision.
Who should wear sunglasses and why?
The surface of the eye contains powerful ultraviolet blocking capability, so not much ultraviolet light really gets into the eye. However, the heat energy from light gets into the eye, and the heat energy from the sun burns. You may recall as a kid holding a magnifying glass up to the sun and burning a hole in a leaf. Well, the eye acts just like that magnifying glass. It makes sense to limit sun exposure and limit the heat energy from the sun with sunglasses.
Dr. Neal Adams’ Eye Healthy Dinner Menu:
Below is a dinner menu Dr. Adams created that would provide the maximum nutrition for healthy eyes.
APPETIZER: A delicious kale salad filled with red, yellow, and green peppers and a light dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Kale is full of lutein and zeaxanthin, loaded with bioflavonoids and a super serving of vitamin A. It also has a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent call diindolylmethane (DIM for short). The peppers give you a variety of powerful antioxidants: glutathione, troxerutin, and quercetin as well as being loaded with vitamin C. Peppers have more vitamin C than any other common fruit or veggie — 3 times more than oranges and twice the amount as kiwis!
ENTRÉE: Garlic-ginger marinade grilled wild-caught salmon with a side of cinnamon-crusted sweet potato.
Salmon is the all-star of fish with 1,600 mg of DHA per serving, benefiting many eye conditions, ranging from dry eye to retinitis pigmentosa to macular degeneration. Ginger contains bioactive compounds called gingerols that are quite beneficially potent! Garlic contains bioflavonoids and a compound called allicin which promotes good health. Cinnamon is packed with bioflavonoids and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A and the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 that helps produce energy and digest debris.
DESSERT (can’t forget desert): A little bit of lightly-honey-sweetened frozen yogurt flavored with natural dark chocolate, topped with a fresh fruit compote and fresh mint.
Chocolate packs in a ton of antioxidant bioflavonoids….in fact the top two sources of bioflavonoids by far are cocoa beans and unsweetened dark chocolate! The honey also has bioflavonoids, yogurt has vitamin B2, and mint promotes the survival of neural cells. Fruits are super-antioxidants.
TEA: Whether herbal, green, white, or black, tea is packed with a varied range of different bioflavonoids. So be sure to include tea in your diet!