Most of us truly treasure our eyesight. Yet most of us take for granted that as we grow older our eyesight will diminish. On the other hand, we regularly hear of folks well into their centenary years who still have excellent eyesight – often even without eyeglasses. So what makes the difference? Surely genetics plays a part in it. But I believe that proper nutrition that “feeds” the eyes is also a contributor. Let’s look at some herbs that specifically seem to nourish the eyes.
One whose name seems to speak to its benefit is Eyebright. It has been used for centuries as the herb of choice for many diseases of the eyes. Eyebright can be taken internally and is also used in many eyewash formulas because it has antibacterial, antiseptic and astringent properties. It is especially useful for treating conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” and sore, stinging inflammation along with discharges. Eyebright seems to have the ability to improve vision, relieve eye pressure, relieve over-sensitivity to light, and protect the optic nerve in the early stages of glaucoma. A number of testimonials attribute to its usefulness in removing cataracts if used regularly for a few weeks to a few months. It contains a glycoside called aucoboside, which definitely strengthens the capillaries and improves circulation in the eyes. Making eyewash with it is easy and the wash can be used up to a dozen times a day. Simply empty a capsule of the herb into water and boil it for about ten minutes. Cool it, strain it, and then use it as you would any eyewash. This can relieve the discomfort of both eyestrain and minor irritation.
Bilberry contains potent antioxidants that are able to cross the blood-brain barrier to neutralize free radicals in the brain and other nerve tissues including the eyes. One reference told the story of British pilots in World War II who ate bilberry jam on their bread. It states that they were observed to suffer less fatigue, have reduced eye irritation and nearsightedness, and possess better night vision and an extended range and sharpness of vision. It is further known to reduce eye irritation from smog. Note that while vision will often improve within a couple of weeks, continued use over time is needed for the greatest benefits.
There is truth to the old adage that eating carrots will also help improve your eyesight. You see, carrots contain not only beta carotene but other carotenoids such as lutein which concentrate in the eye. These are needed in sufficiently high levels to protect eye tissues such as the macula, and macular degeneration is the leading cause of visual loss. One reference also noted that lutein dwindles in menopausal years, which may contribute to loss of eyesight as women age.
Soy has a variety of nutritional values. Among them is its ability to lower high cholesterol. How does that relate to the eyes? High cholesterol levels drop the density of retinol necessary for good eye health.
Combinations, which take advantage of the synergistic effect of combining herbs, contribute to “eye” formulas. One popular formula combines eyebright with golden seal (antiseptic), bayberry (astringent), and red raspberry (better known for its use in female tonics). Such combinations have been used with hay fever, glaucoma, and superficial cataracts. Remember that these results may take months to accomplish.
Vitamins are a good idea for all our body systems, but we should note that of particular importance to our eyes are the vitamins A and C and a good complex of the B vitamins. And keep eating carrots!
Don’t face old age passively. Work at getting everything from life that God intended. And when we “vote” for good vision right up to the moment we’re called to heaven’s gate, remember, the “eyes” have it. Enjoy good health and God’s richest blessings. Gen.1:29.
- For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.