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Five Strategies to Save Your Sight

Published: March 20, 2009

By Dr. Marguerite McDonald, a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at NYU School of Medicine in New York who specializes in caring for the cornea and other structures at the front of the eye. Dr. McDonald practices with the Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island. 

Our eyes change over time, and the challenges to our eye health shift, too. People in their 20s and 30s may begin wearing eyeglasses or need a different eyeglass prescription. For those in their 40s, reading glasses and problems with dry eye—which may disproportionately affect women due to hormonal changes related to the approach of menopause—are common realities. And, double or blurred vision and sensitivity to light may signal the early onset of cataracts and make activities such as driving at night difficult for individuals over 50.

To promote optimal eye health for life:

Get regular eye exams: Many women (and some men, as well) are so busy taking care of families that they forget about their own health and wellness. Take the first step. Schedule an annual exam to help detect the five major threats to eye health, including glaucoma, cataracts, dry eye, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

Eat for your eyesight: Plan ahead to eat plenty of berries, two daily servings of leafy greens, two weekly servings of oily fish, and foods rich in vitamin C such like oranges and broccoli. Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain a normal tear film, which is critical for crisp vision that doesn’t fluctuate. Leafy green vegetables provide lutein and xeazanthin to help maintain the health of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision. Vitamin C helps prevent changes due to aging in all of the ocular tissues.

Stay safe in the shade: Whatever the season, always wear a hat, sunglasses, or shades when outdoors. Exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts or age-related macular degeneration.

Make exercise part of your day: Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol—conditions that may harm the retina and result in vision loss.

Maintain healthy tears: Tears nourish and protect the eye surface from excessive dryness that can lead to impaired vision and increased risk of infection. To help ease dryness, itching, and irritation, opt for over-the-counter artificial tear products (e.g., Optive, Refresh, or Fresh Kote). Chronic use of eye whitening drops (e.g., Visine or Naphcon-A) may actually worsen eye dryness. Talk to your eye doctor if using artificial tears becomes routine. In some cases, prescription eye drops (e.g., Restasis) may be beneficial.

Spinach with Lemon and Garlic


(Makes 4 servings)

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

First, heat oil in large saute pan or wok. Saute garlic over low heat until golden but not browned.
Next, raise heat to medium, add lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper, and spinach. Immediately life out of pan using tongs (leaving liquid in pot) and place in serving bowl.


Spinach With Golden Raisins and Almonds


(makes 4 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1 pound fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

First, soak raisins in small bowl of hot water to plump.
Then, heat oil in large wok or saute pan and cook shallots for about 3 minutes, until golden.
Toss in the almonds and cook briefly until they change color. Drain spinach and raisins (reserve raisin water) and stir in. If you need to add some liquid to keep greens moist, use raisin water, a tablespoon at a time. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper, and toss.
Cover and cook until greens wilt – about 4 minutes.
Stir frequently. If there is liquid left in wok when spinach is done, lift out greens, raisins, and nuts with tongs, leaving liquid in pot.

Preventing Macular Degeneration with Greens

Kale with Red Onion


(Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 pound kale, washed and stems discarded
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced red onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium, defatted chicken or vegetable broth

First, bring large pot of water to boil. Immerse kale in boiling water and cook for about 4 minutes, until it turns bright green and wilts. Drain kale immediately. Once it is cool enough to handle, coarsely chop.
Second, heat oil in large saute pan. Cook onions and garlic about five minutes, until onions and garlic about five minutes, until onions wilt and garlic turns golden. Stir frequently. Halfway through cooking, add one tablespoon or water. As water evaporates, it will steam onions, which will speed cooking and keep onions soft.
Third, add chopped kale, salt, pepper, and broth to pan.
Stir and heat through.

Spinach Salad With Fruit And Blackberry-Basil Vinaigrette


(Makes 6 servings)

  • 8 cups torn fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed mango (I use mango found in refrigerated jars in the produce section
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 2 kiwi, peeled and sliced

Place salad greens and next four ingredients into large bowl. Gently toss.
Blackberry-Basil Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 jar (10 oz.) seedless blackberry preserves (may use sugar-free)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Pulse preserves, vinegar, and next four ingredients in a blender 2 or 3 times until blended. Gradually add olive il and continue to process until smooth. (May substitute blueberry preserves and fresh blueberries for the blackberries.)

Spinach and Lentil Soup


(Makes 5 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • One package (10 oz.) fresh spinach, washed and trimmed of tough stems
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 7 cups reduced-sodium, defatted chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

First, heat the oil in soup pot over low heat. Saute onions and garlic in oil until onions are soft and golden. Add cumin, coriander, and paprika. Stir and cook until aromas intensify.
Second, coarsely chop spinach. Add it to the saute and cook until it wilts.
Third, add Tabasco, oregano, lentils and broth to pot

Stir together remaining ingredients and toss into salad just before serving.

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