After a long day of working on a new book, completing patient charts, and reviewing medical studies, my eyes are shot.
It’s a little embarrassing, because people have a stereotype when it comes to eye redness. Bloodshot eyes are often associated with poor sleeping habits and late-night partying.
Clear, bright eyes are important when you want to look your best, whether it’s for a date or a business meeting. So when your eyes are bloodshot from lack of sleep, eye strain, allergies, or constant rubbing, it’s easy to grab a bottle of Visine or Clear Eyes to whiten them up.
But over-the-counter (OTC) solutions, might create more problems than they solve.
These kinds of eye drops work by constricting the blood vessels in your eyes. But they never work for very long. When the drops wear off, blood rushes back into your vessels, putting more pressure on your eyes. So, the more you use them, the more you need them.
Also, naphazoline, the active ingredient in some OTC solutions, can cause an irregular heart rate, high blood pressure, severe headache, and difficulty breathing. Plus, it may damage the blood vessels in the eyes.
The best thing to do for your eyes is stop using OTC drops altogether.
To keep your eyes naturally clear and bright:
- Limit soft drinks, coffee, and alcohol. A little of these drinks is ok but they are diuretics. Too much can pull fluid out of the body and leave your eyes feeling dry and tired.
- Drink plenty of water to provide much-needed moisture to your eyes. Clean, pure water hydrates your entire body – including your eyes. Splashing water on your eyes will give you immediate relief if you’re really feeling dry.
- Eat the right fats so your eyes work their best. Omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel – even eggs and olive oil – can help soothe your dry eyes.
Over the long-term, support your eye health by eating foods filled with carotenoids, like carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach, green leafy vegetables which are high in lutein, and bilberries, the fruit that Britain’s Royal Air Force used in World War II to keep their pilots’ vision strong.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, M.D.
1 American Society for Nutrition, “Long-Term Ingestion of High Flavanol Cocoa Provides Photoprotection against UV-Induced Erythema and Improves Skin Condition in Women,” Journal of Nutrition June 2006; 136:1565-1569
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