Tag Archives: Ipoh Echo Eye Health

Drooping Eyelids

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Eye Health

Ipoh Echo’s Eye Health series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill talking to us about Drooping Eyelids or Ptosis.  

Ever seen your older friends slowly begin to have droopy or sagging eyelids? Well this condition is fairly common in old age. It is called dermatochalasis and the eyelids appear to sag with excess “baggy” skin surrounding them. This is the age related cause of a droopy eyelid.

It is sometimes referred to as Ptosis (pronounced “toe-sis”) which is the general term for a droopy eyelid. There are many general causes for a droopy eyelid to occur. They are:

Drooping eyesCongenital — The child is born with drooping eyelids because of a problem in development of the eyelids. Most of these cases affect only one eye. It is important to look out for the drooping eyelid that blocks off the vision of the eye in a child. If this occurs, then surgical correction has to be done early to prevent the development of a “lazy eye” or “amblyopia”.

Local eye problems — In some cases, the eyelid starts drooping because of nerve injury due to trauma, eyelid infections and tumours within the bony cavity or eyeball socket.

Age related ptosis (Aponuerotic Ptosis) — This also may be referred to as dermatochalasis.  Due to the long-term effects of gravity and the aging, it causes the eyelid skin to sag over the eye. Both eyes are usually affected but drooping may be worse in one eye.

Myasthenia gravis — This is a disease that can affect the whole body causing progressive muscle weakness.  The eyelids as well as facial muscles including the legs, arms and other parts of the body may be affected. This condition will require a thorough assessment and treatment by a physician or neurologist. A test called Tensilon test where a drug called edrophonium chloride is injected into a vein in order to diagnose this condition.

Nerve problems — Any nerve damage due to a stroke, aneurysm of blood vessel in the brain and brain tumour may cause a droopy eyelid. Nerve damage due to longstanding diabetes mellitus may also cause a droopy eyelid.

Tumours — There is also a condition called Horner’s Syndrome where a cancerous tumour at the top part of the lungs results in one half of the face losing the ability to sweat along with a drooping eyelid.

Strokes  —  Any nerve damage due to a stroke, aneurysm of blood vessel in the brain and brain tumour may cause a droopy eyelid. Nerve damage due to long-term diabetes can also cause a droopy eyelid.

Drooping eyesWhen the drooping eyelids cover a person’s vision causing a vision disturbance, the person usually ends up COMPENSATING UNCONSCIOUSLY BY USING THE MUSCLES OF THE EYEBROWS TO LIFT THE AFFECTED EYELIDS UP (see pic on the left). The person may also end up unconsciously tilting the chin up or tilting the head back as a method of seeing through the lower part of the eye. All this may cause the person to have headaches and even neck problems in the long run. Whatever the cause of a drooping eyelid may be, if you are unsure of the cause, get it checked out by a doctor.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-5455582) or email gilleyecentre@dr.com.

The Twitching Eyelid (Part 2)

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Eye Health

Ipoh Echo’s Eye Health series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill talking to us about The Twitching Eyelid.

Most eyelid twitches are MINOR and not dangerous. Thankfully, they also do not last for very long although sometimes that may rarely last for a few months. The MORE SERIOUS or problematic form of eyelid twitching is called blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm. Here, Dr Gill speaks to us more about the other causes of eyelid twitching.

Fatigue: A lack of sleep, whether due to stress or other reasons, can trigger eyelid spasms. A good night’s rest may not only affect your mood the next day, but also your eyes. Sleep is a way to rejuvenate and refresh not only your body but also your eyes, “recharging” them for the day ahead. When you don’t get sufficient sleep, your eyes will feel tired, just like how the rest of your body may feel, says Dr Gill.

We spend about one-third of our entire lifetime sleeping. This is not wasted time because from the moment we slip into sleep, a whole cascade of events take place involving the brain, eyes, immune function, hormones, skin, respiratory system and digestive system. Inadequate sleep results in fatigue that can only be replaced by the natural process of getting the hours of sleep you have been deprived of. There is no other way to solving this!

gillDry eyes: Dry eyes are very common among postmenopausal women, the elderly, those who spend hours at the computer, those who are on medication such as antihistamines and antidepressants and also among those who wear contact lenses for long hours. Should you start getting an eyelid twitch, it’s best to see your eye doctor for a dry eye evaluation, because many treatments are now available.

Eye allergies: People who suffer from eye allergies with symptoms of itchy and watery eyes may have twitching eyelids too. This is because histamine is released into the eyelid tissues and this results in twitching of the eyelids. If you self-medicate with antihistamine eye drops, do be careful because this can cause some dry eyes too. Remember, dry eyes can be an underlying cause for eyelid twitching! So, it would be best to seek professional advice should you suffer from this.

Nutritional imbalances: Nutritional deficiencies like magnesium deficiency can trigger spasms of the eyelid. Having a balanced diet and eating healthy will definitely help.

Remedies for eye twitching

The first thing to do is to identify the underlying cause or trigger factor for the eyelid twitching. If it is excessive caffeine, then it’s time to take it easy on those cups of coffee. If it is stress, do find ways to de-stress from time to time. If it is dry eyes, then lubricant eye drops will often help. These can be purchased over the counter quite easily. If it is because of lack of sleep, then there is no easy way out but to get that sleep that you lack!

For the more serious blepharospasm and hemifacial spasms, you would need to see the ophthalmologist or neurologist. Medication like anxiolytics (anti-stress medication) may help some patients. If this does not help, then BOTOX (botulinum toxin) injections into the muscles surrounding the eyes (periorbital area) may help. This relaxes the muscles for several months. The BOTOX injection does not last forever and so may need to be repeated at three to six months intervals. This form of treatment has proven to be successful in most cases.

As a last resort, and only if absolutely necessary, a neurosurgical procedure may be done to relieve pressure on the nerve. This is only performed as a final measure if other forms of treatment do not help, as this type of surgery runs a risk of serious complications.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-5455582) or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

The Twitching Eyelid

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s Eye Health Series Continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill talking to us about The Twitching Eyelid.

Twitching of the eyelid is a term for spasms of the eyelid muscles that occurs involuntarily. This is an annoying problem when it happens. Twitching of the eyelids and eyelid spasms are quite common. Most of the time, only the lower eyelid is involved and that too, commonly in one eye only. However, sometimes the upper eyelid may also be involved.

Most eyelid twitches are MINOR and not dangerous. Thankfully, they also do not last for very long although sometimes they may, though rare, last for a few months. The good thing is that eyelid spasms are often so subtle that people around us do not even notice that someone has an eyelid twitch.

The MORE SERIOUS or problematic form of eyelid twitching is called blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm. Thankfully, these serious forms of twitching occur less often. When they do occur, they may warrant further testing and investigation.

dr gillSome of the possible causes for eyelid twitching are as follows:

  • Stress induced
  • Caffeine intake
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Eye fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • General fatigue

Identifying the cause for the eyelid twitching helps us to handle the treatment. Often it is just a matter of setting something right. The more serious varieties of twitching however may be a part of a nerve condition and may need to be investigated.

Stress

Mankind is now living in possibly the most stressful era of all time. We are often reminded that “life is not a bed of roses”. The stresses of everyday life with regards to job stress, health conditions and emotional issues are common problems that one may have to face.

The stresses of life have often been identified as underlying causes for various health problems ranging from constipation, depression, hypertension, menstrual irregularities, decreased immunity and even precipitating heart attacks that may lead to death. We all react to stress differently. The response to stress may result in a major illness as mentioned above or just a simple annoying eyelid twitch. If the cause for the eyelid twitch has been identified as stress-induced, then concerted efforts should be taken to address it, the scope of which is beyond this article.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant drug. Caffeine was first discovered by a German chemist, Friedrich Ferdinand in 1819. Caffeine is found not only in coffee but also in some leaves, beans and fruits of some plants. Believe it or not, it can actually act as a natural pesticide that kills some insects that feed on the caffeine-containing plants.

Caffeine is a stimulant (central nervous system or CNS stimulant) that restores alertness and postpones drowsiness. It enhances the effect of the stress we experience. Additionally, caffeine also increases blood pressure and so caffeine and stress do work synergistically in a negative sense. If you do have an annoying eyelid twitch, it would be worth a try cutting back on caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks. The problem often is that too many of us are in some sense “addicted” to caffeine and claim to not be able to function without that morning cup of coffee! More on Eyelid Twitch in the next issue of the Ipoh Echo.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

Dr S.S. Gill

Medication Affecting The Eyes (Part 2)

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Eye Health

Ipoh Echo’s Eye Health Series Continues With Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill Talking To Us More On Medication That Can Affect The Eyes.

Taking medication for a particular illness or ailment may be necessary for some of us at some point in our lives. Some medication can result in side effects including eye-related side effects, some more serious than others. It all depends on the type of medication and the duration of use. In this second part, Dr Gill speaks to us more about some medication that may cause eye side effects.

Amitriptyline

Amitriptyline is an effective tri-cyclic antidepressant. Patients who are on this medication may experience dry eyes. It has an effect on accommodation of the eyes, resulting in difficulty with near reading and sometimes distant vision too. This medication may also have a risk for causing a type of glaucoma called “Angle Closure Glaucoma”, particularly in persons who are at risk for this kind of glaucoma. Thankfully, most people who suffer from glaucoma have “open angle” glaucoma, and not the angle closure glaucoma variety. Open angle glaucoma patients should experience no problems when taking this medication.

Dr S.S. GillCorticosteroids

Corticosteroids is a common and effective medication that is often used to treat a variety of illnesses ranging from  arthritis, digestive problems, bronchial asthma, certain skin diseases, and even some eye conditions, as well as used for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This may be given orally, injected, inhaled, given as eye drops or applied directly to affected areas of skin.

Long-term use of such steroid medication may result in early cataracts in some patients. Topical and oral corticosteroids have also been found to cause glaucoma. People who are taking corticosteroids for extended periods should have their eyes checked from time to time.

Accutane

This is a medication used to treat acne (pimples). It is known to cause dryness of mucous membranes in our body and also the eyes. When someone develops dry eye symptoms, they may complain of redness, a burning sensation, and even blurred vision at times. Often, a simple prescription of lubricant eye drops or artificial tears and ointments may help.

Accutane may also lead to temporary visual disturbances and trouble with night vision for some people. When starting on Accutane, your doctor will often inform you about these potential side-effects. Do inform your doctor should you have any of these symptoms.

Minocycline

This drug is also used to treat acne and another skin condition called rosacea. It is similar to the oral antibiotic called tetracycline. It may cause a side effect resulting in a blue-grey or brownish pigmentation of the white of the eye (sclera). This pigmentation may be more in areas exposed to sunlight. The good thing is that discontinuation of this drug reverses the pigmentation that it causes.

In conclusion, every medication may have side effects but the decision on whether you need it is BEST DECIDED by your physician after weighing the benefits against the side effects. Also, NOT every person will develop side-effects! Always keep a tab of all medication that you may be taking. Should you need to see various doctors for various ailments, you must inform them of all the medication you are taking. This will avoid unnecessary problems with drug interactions.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

Eye Myths or Facts (Part 2)

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about EYE MYTHS AND FACTS.

The eyes are windows to the world around us. There are many myths that surround the eyes. You may not be blessed with perfect vision but you can take your blinkers off when it comes to eye-care. Here are some common myths about eye-care:

When you get something in your eye, it’s alright to rub it out

Tired Boy Rubbing EyesThis is the big mistake that many make. Never rub your eyes because it can damage or injure the eye. When you rub the eye with a foreign particle still in your eye, it would have a sandpaper effect on your eye, invariably resulting in injury to the eye. The commonest injury from rubbing the eye with a foreign body in it is a corneal abrasion. If this corneal abrasion gets infected, you end up with a corneal ulcer that can have serious implications including blindness.

The correct thing to do is to flush out the foreign particle from the eye with water or saline. If it still remains in the eye even after flushing the eye, do not attempt to use the edge of a tissue paper or a toothpick as these potential sources of infection. You are advised to see your medical practitioner without delay. Remember that serious eye injuries may seem minor at first.

Wearing prescription spectacles makes you dependent on them

Should you be required to wear a pair of corrective (powered) spectacles in order to improve your vision because it is blur, it will not result in dependence on them or further weakening of your eyes. Wearing these glasses only helps you to see better and therefore puts less strain on your eyes. In short, the prescription spectacles just allows you to enjoy good vision. It does not result in dependence.

The darker the sunglasses the more protection your eyes get from the sun

This is not true. The colour of the sunglasses you wear does not have anything to do with eye protection. Always look for sunglasses that will block off both harmful ultraviolet rays of both UVA and UVB rays. It is important to get a good pair because exposure to bright sunlight can increase your risk for cataracts and age-related vision loss. The ability to block off UV light does not depend on how expensive are the sunglasses, or how dark the sunglass lenses are. Brand also does not matter! Choose sunglasses that either has a CE mark, a label that says 100% UV protection from UVA and UVB rays, or has a UV400 tag.

 

Your regular prescription glasses can double up as safety glasses

This again is not true. While your regular prescription spectacles may be able to prevent most of the hazards of working with flying splinters and some chemicals, it cannot protect our eyes from flying objects with high velocity. Always wear proper safety goggles over your spectacles whenever you are doing any work such as hammering nails, mowing the lawn or tinkering with sharp objects.

Using artificial sweeteners will make your eyes more sensitive to light

Some sugar substitutes like cyclamates may cause eyes to be more sensitive to light. Some medication such as oral contraceptives and diuretic medication may also cause the eyes to be more sensitive to light (photophobia). Should you have any undue sensitivity to light, do discuss this with your physician.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah

(05-545 5582) or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

Eye health - Dr S.S. Gill

Eye Myths or Facts

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about EYE MYTHS AND FACTS.

The eyes are windows to the world around us. There are many myths that surround the eyes. You may not be blessed with perfect vision but you can take your blinkers off when it comes to eye-care. Here are some common myths about eye-care:

If you wear glasses, you get dependent on them

When you are prescribed a pair of spectacles to correct your vision because you have blurred vision, excessive use does not weaken your eyes. Wearing these prescription glasses allows you to see clearly and puts less strain on your eyes. It does not make you get dependent on the spectacles but rather, it just allows you to enjoy good vision.

Nothing can be done to prevent vision loss in old age

If you experience any eye symptoms such as blurred vision, eye pain, or floaters, do see a doctor. There are many causes of eyesight loss or blurring vision and most of them can be treated especially so if they are detected early enough. So, if you have blurring vision, seek professional help.Eye health - Dr S.S. Gill

Eating carrots improves vision

Will eating carrots all day long give you bionic eyes? Actually, it’s the overall DIET that’s important. Although carrots are foods that are high in Vitamin A and does play a role in maintaining eye health, having an excess of the vitamin does not enhance vision further. Foods like spinach, broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables can help the eyes. So, you do not have to be eating carrots like a rabbit.

 Reading in dim light is bad for you

Reading in dim light does not cause permanent harm to your vision but it can cause eye fatigue that can affect you significantly. It is best to avoid reading under dim light to avoid unnecessary eye fatigue. Going through the day results in enough fatigue in itself, so do the right thing and read under adequate lighting. If you do get tired, simply stop what you are doing for a while. The 20-20-20 rule is helpful – take a break every 20 minutes for about 20 seconds by looking at objects that are 20 feet away from you.

Working at a computer damages your eyes

When someone works on a computer, he or she tends to blink less times in one minute. This causes discomfort especially when you work with a computer for long. It is because the eye lubrication gets compromised, making the eyes less moist. The person’s eyes end up feeling dry, gritty and sometimes with a burning sensation.  Again, the key is to take a regular break in between computer work, applying the 20-20-20 rule. Applying moistening or lubricating eye drops do help. Avoid eye drops with antihistamines in them! Reducing the brightness of your monitor to a comfortable level is also helpful.

People with bad eyesight shouldn’t wear out their eyes by doing detailed work

If you have weak eyes, doing fine-print reading does not make them worse. The eye is not a muscle. The eye is like a camera. Therefore, it will not wear out just because you use it to take photographs that have fine detail.

Dr Gill will share more in the next issue of Ipoh Echo.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-5455582) or email gilleyecentre@dr.com.

Sleep and the Eyes

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us more about SLEEP and the eyes. 

A good night’s rest may not only affect your mood the next day, but also your eyes. Sleep is a way to rejuvenate and refresh not only your body but also your eyes, “recharging” them for the day ahead. When you don’t get sleep, your eyes will feel tired, just like how the rest of your body may feel, says Dr Gill.

Sleep is often taken lightly but in fact, it is no laughing matter. People these days are often on the run, having to meet various targets apart from the numerous chores to do in a day. Due to this increased number of work hours, the number of sleep hours is reduced drastically.

It is no secret that the lack of sleep is a cause for a great number of illnesses. Generally, the eyes (and the body too) need at least five hours of rest. When there is inadequate time for the eyes to revive, they will not be able to work to their full potential. A shortage of sleep can also worsen symptoms of dry eye and a person may experience discomfort, light sensitivity, itching, redness, or even blurred vision sometimes.

We spend about one-third of our entire lifetime sleeping. This is not wasted time because from the moment we slip into sleep, a whole cascade of events takes place involving the brain, eyes, immune function, hormones, skin, respiratory system and digestive system. In fact, it plays a crucial role in how energetic and healthy the other two-thirds of our waking hours can be.

PHASES OF SLEEP

In a typical sleep cycle, there is a pattern of alternating REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep throughout the night in a cycle that repeats itself approximately every 90 minutes. NREM takes up about 75% of the total time for sleep and the other 25% is by REM sleep. You can recognise when a person goes into REM sleep when you see the eyes twitch, with quick movements back and forth under the shut eyelids. Both types of sleep are necessary for optimal health.

Eye Health - Dr S.S. Gill - opthalmologistNREM SLEEP

When a person first falls asleep, he or she goes into the NREM sleep initially. This sleep phase has four stages from 1-4. In stages 3 and 4, there will be a deep sleep and this is when there is most restoration of the body and to the eyes. During this phase, the blood pressure drops, breathing slows down, muscles become relaxed, repair of the body including the eyes occurs, hormones like growth hormone are released and our energy gets restored.

REM SLEEP

After about 90 minutes, a person goes into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Most but not all dreams occur in this phase. Our bodies become relaxed and the muscles are turned off. This is the time that there is provision of energy to the brain and body. REM sleep can last from five to 30 minutes. REM sleep rejuvenates a person.

After the REM sleep phase, the NREM sleep phase starts all over again. The 90 to 110 minute cycle of these two phases repeats about four to six times every night. Most adults would do well with 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night with an adequate number of NREM and REM phases. Rarely for some, they may only need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. Whatever it is, make sure you have enough sleep because it is the time the body and the eyes get rest, undergoing repair and detoxification. Even animals need sleep to rejuvenate!

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

Nutrition for the Eyes (Final Part)

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

EYE HEALTH

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us more about NUTRITION & VITAMINS for the eyes.

Good nutrition with vitamins and minerals are important for the eyes to function normally. It helps our body to grow, repair the wear and tear, protect against infections and to function properly. In this final part on the importance of nutrition and vitamins to the eyes, Dr Gill speaks to us about omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids DHA & EPA

Several studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids may help protect adult eyes from dry eye syndrome and macular degeneration (degeneration of the sensitive nerve part at the back of the eye). DHA attains its highest concentration within eye tissue, where it accounts for approximately 30% of the total fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are among the most important nutrients for the development, function, and maintenance of eye tissue throughout life.

Role in Preventing Macular Degeneration

There was a big European study published in 2008, which showed that those who ate fish, (which is a food source of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids) at least once a week had a decreased risk of developing wet (neovascular) macular degeneration, compared with those who ate fish less than once a week.

In another study in 2009 called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), it was found that those who consumed the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet were 30 per cent less likely to develop macular degeneration.

Role in Dry Eyes

Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce dry eye syndrome, a chronic eye disease caused by a decrease in tear production or increase in tear evaporation. In a study of more than 32,000 women between the ages of 45 and 84, it was found that those who consumed omega-3 fatty acids in their diet benefited from less dry eye problems.

What are the Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids DHA & EPA?

Eye healthOmega-3 fatty acids DHA & EPA can be found in foods like oil-rich fish, fish oil, nuts, plus fortified foods like eggs, bread and fruit juices. The variety of fish included sardines, salmon and tuna. It is not surprising though that the seawater varieties were found to be better sources than the farmed variety of fish partly because these were typically subject to higher levels of pollutants.

If you don’t like eating fish, another way to ensure enough omega-3 intake is to take fish oil supplements. These are available in capsule and liquid forms. There are some varieties that have even taken off the fishy taste and smell from the fish oil supplements.

Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. The only downside is that our bodies cannot process the omega-3 fatty acids from these vegetarian sources as easily as the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish.

Key points to remember:

  • Eat a good, balanced diet with lots of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Discuss improving your diet or taking vitamin supplements with your GP.
  • Avoid smoking. A healthy lifestyle makes all the difference!

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

Nutrition for the Eyes

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us more about NUTRITION & VITAMINS for the eyes. 

It is important to eat the right foods that contain the right vitamins to help keep your eyes healthy. Good nutrition with vitamins and minerals are important for the eyes to function normally.

In this issue, Dr Gill speaks about antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin – known as ‘carotenoids’ that are important for the eyes.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are important nutrients that have been found to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. These carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals.

What is the Meaning of Antioxidant?

Antioxidants are substances that protect cells in your body from free radicals. Free radicals are produced when your immune system fights off bacteria. Free radicals are also produced as by-products when the foods that we eat are broken down into energy.

These free radicals are unstable and can damage the cells in our eyes and organs as a whole. Our bodies including our eyes are constantly exposed to these free radicals (oxidative stress). In fact, every cell in our body comes under attack from a free radical once every ten seconds.

Some things that cause free radical production (oxidative stress):

  • Ultraviolet light in sunshine – those exposed to the sun are more likely to get cataracts and skin cancer.
  • Toxins: cigarette smoke, poisonous wastes of our own metabolism, the chemicals invariably found in our food, pesticides and air pollution.
  • Antioxidants are like the “body-guards” for the cells in our body. They protect the cells from damage by the free radicals. This is why antioxidants are important.

How does Lutein and Zeaxanthin work?

Antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin filter the harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help to protect and maintain healthy cells in the eye.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin Slowing Cataract Formation

Lutein and zeaxanthin may play a role in cataract prevention. In fact, studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin along with vitamin E was associated with a decreased risk of cataract formation. This is because these antioxidants may slow down the oxidation of the lens and therefore slow down cataract formation.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) results in visual loss. Clinical studies have shown that high levels of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduced the risk of advanced AMD.

Foods Rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Green vegetables such as: kale, spinach, turnip, broccoli, garden peas and eggs. To get the best nutrients, avoid excessive cooking and storage as heat and storage reduces the antioxidant effectiveness.

Key points to remember:

  • Eat a good balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Discuss improving your diet or taking vitamin supplements with your GP.
  • Avoid smoking. A healthy lifestyle makes all the difference!

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

Nutrition & Vitamins for the Eyes

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill, Consultant Ophthalmologist

Ipoh Echo’s Eye Health series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill talking to us more about Nutrition & Vitamins for the eyes.

Good nutrition with vitamins and minerals is important for the eyes to function normally. That is why it is important to be eating the right foods that contain the right vitamins to help keep your eyes healthy.

In this issue, Dr Gill speaks about vitamin E that is important for the eye.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is important to maintain strong immunity and healthy eyes. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells from damage by free radicals that result from exposure to environmental pollutants around us including cigarette smoke.

When we say vitamin E, it does not mean one vitamin but actually a group of eight vitamins called tocopherols and tocotrienols. The most active form of vitamin E is Alpha-tocopherol.

How does vitamin E help the eyes?

There was a study on cataracts involving 764 people with the average age group of 65 years. The study showed that the regular users of vitamin E supplements were less likely to have an increase in lens opacity or cataracts. Vitamin E not only helps to possibly prevent cataracts, it might help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) which is a disease affecting aging people.

Should you choose natural or synthetic vitamin E?

When you read the label on the bottle of vitamins, how would you know whether it is natural or synthetic vitamin E? Well, when vitamin E is in its natural form, it is designated with a “d-” prefix (d-alpha-tocopherol). When it is a synthetic vitamin E, it will have a “dl-” prefix (dl-alpha-tocopherol). As with most things, the natural vitamin E is more beneficial than the synthetic forms of vitamin E. So, be sure to look at the source of the vitamin should you be purchasing a bottle of vitamin E. Just look for the “d-” prefix that indicates it is from a natural source.

Does our food have enough vitamin E?

almondsIf you have a balanced diet and avoid processed foods, you should be able to get adequate vitamin E from foods such as:

  • Green leafy vegetables, example – spinach
  • Eggs
  • Nuts, Almonds
  • Vegetable Oils

How much vitamin E should you take?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) includes the vitamin E you get from both the food you eat and any supplements you take. Be sure to follow this. The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for men or women older than 14 years old is 15 milligrams (or 22.5 IU).

Does vitamin E have Side Effects?

As with anything else, too much of vitamin E is not good. This vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it can accumulate in the body if taken in large quantities, causing unwanted side-effects. It can interfere with the body’s blood clotting ability and this can be dangerous if you are taking blood thinning medication. Overdoses also can cause nausea, headache, bleeding and fatigue.

Key points to remember:

Eat a good, balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Discuss improving your diet or taking vitamin supplements with your GP.

Avoid smoking. A healthy lifestyle makes all the difference!

Dr Gill will talk more about other aspects of nutrition for the eyes in the next article.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or
email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.