What’s Your Nutrition Eye Q?

Are you one of the 4 in 5 adults who thinks eye health inevitably gets worse with age? [1] If so, you are buying into a common myth! Enhance your eye health by making simple dietary and lifestyle choices to later impact your peepers! Take the quiz below, developed by Dr. Kimberly Reed, Professor of Optometry at the Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, to find out what you can do, and how your diet plays an important role.

1. How many times a week do you eat at least 2 cups (measured when raw) of dark green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach

A. Every day

B. Most days

C. Rarely or never

2. How often are you eating at least 6 ounces of cold water fish containing DHA omega-3s (examples include salmon, tuna, sardines or mackerel) prepared by baking, grilling, or roasting without added butter or oil?

A. Two times or more week

B. I eat these kinds of foods occasionally, but less than two times each week

C. I almost never eat those foods

3. How often do you fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables?

A. Most of the time

B. Some of the time

C. Not very often

4. Do you maintain a healthy body weight?

A. Yes! All of the time or most of the time, I am within the healthy weight range for my height

B. About half the time. My weight fluctuates!

C. No, or not usually. Achieving a healthy body weight is a real challenge!

5. How many alcoholic drinks do you have each week? (One drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 1.5 oz of liquor, 5 oz of wine, or 3.5 oz of mixed drink)

A. Three or less

B. Four to seven (women) or four to 14 (men)

C. More than seven (women) or more than 14 (men)

6. Are you a smoker, or have you ever been a smoker?

A. No way, I have never smoked

B. Well, I must admit I used to smoke, but no longer do

C. I am a current smoker, it’s a habit I just can’t seem to break

7. How much sleep do you get each night?

A. I’m bright eyed and ready in the morning: 7.5 or more hours, but less than 9.5 hours

B. I’m a big sluggish and get at least six hours, but less than eight

C. I need my coffee because I get less than six hours of sleep a night

8. How would you describe your time in front of a computer screen, cell phone, or tablet?

A. I follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, I take my eyes off the screen and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

B. I am in front of a screen for much of the day, but I take regular breaks.

C. I’m addicted! If I’m not in front of my computer screen at work, I’m scrolling through news feeds on my phone, and when I watch tv at night, I’m also chatting with my friends through my tablet!

9. How would you describe your carbohydrate intake?

A. My body is a temple: I avoid highly processed foods and foods with a lot of added sugar. I tend to eat mostly whole grains and nutrient- and fiber-rich vegetables when I eat carbohydrates (examples: whole grain breads and pasta, broccoli, sweet potatoes, etc.)

B. Healthy but often Tempted: I try to avoid highly processed and sugary foods but I sometimes indulge in pastries, refined breads and pasta, and other ‘empty’ calorie carbohydrate foods.

C. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty: Most of my carbohydrates are in the form of sweets, refined and processed breads, pastas, and pastries, and sugary cereals and treats.

10. How would you describe your stress and stress management?

A. Oum: My life is mostly low-stress. Periods of stress are usually isolated and infrequent, and I manage it in healthy ways (yoga, meditation, breathing, listening to music, exercise, talking it out).

B. I Got This: I have a moderate level of stress. I am stressed for part of the day on most days and I don’t always manage it in healthy ways.

C. Freaking Out: I feel stressed very frequently. I am stressed most of the day on most days. I have trouble managing my stress in healthy ways and sometimes turn to unhealthy ways to relieve stress (yelling, lashing out, drinking alcohol in excess, taking medications not prescribed for me, etc.)

ANSWERS

Mostly As: AAAmazing! Or A Plus for eye nutrition!

Keep it up! Being a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet rich in omega-3s and antioxidants, having healthy habits such as getting enough sleep and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol, and limiting screen time all contribute to healthy eyes. There are things you can do to further support your eye health. Ask your eye doctor if you should consider supplementing your healthy diet with eye-supporting nutrients, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E, and DHA/EPA omega-3s. Wearing protective sunglasses and getting regular eye exams can also increase the likelihood that your eyes will stay healthy well into the future. Finally, be sure to cook those dark leafy greens you’re eating in a small amount of fat – doing so will increase the absorption of their nutrients!

Mostly Bs: B on the right track in no time!

You’re on the right track, but, like many of us, you can make some minor adjustments to support your eye health even more. If you’re not eating enough leafy greens, omega-3-rich foods like fatty fish, or vitamin -rich foods like nuts, berries, and citrus fruits, you can still get the right amount of these essential nutrients through supplementing. Consider one that contains 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin for your eyes. And don’t worry – you’re not alone in needing some help! Only 10% of adults in the U.S. are getting the recommended amount of lutein and zeaxanthin they need to reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases.

Mostly Cs: C your way to better health!

Your lifestyle and eating habits may be putting your eye health at risk, say several research studies. But it’s never too late to start to take back control of your health. Avoid highly processed foods and limit your intake of added sugars in pastries, treats, and cereals. Instead, eat more foods that are high in nutrients, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, like leafy green vegetables, brightly colored vegetables, corn and eggs. However, getting enough of these nutrients daily through food alone can be difficult. Taking a daily supplement with 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin is a great way to ensure you get some of the vital nutrients your eyes need. Also, eat at least two servings of fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, or fatty tuna each week, or take a high quality omega 3 supplement. Other healthy habits – like quitting smoking, getting your weight into a healthy range, and getting enough sleep at night will support not only your eye health, but the health of your entire body. You can do it! And your eyes will thank you.