By Dr. Yasaira Rodriguez, a board-certified ophthalmologist for Elmquist Eye Group
A proper diet nourishes the whole body, aiding and maintaining healthy vision. However, many people struggle to get the nutrients they need through diet alone. While you cannot replace healthy eating habits, multivitamins and supplements may make up for nutritional deficiencies that could jeopardize your eye health.
Research shows that adding certain nutrients to your daily diet can reduce the risk of eye diseases and other degenerative conditions.
A 2019 study by University of Buffalo, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, shows an unhealthy diet increases threefold the likelihood of developing late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss among adults over 60; AMD causes the slow deterioration of central vision, making it difficult for those with the disease to conduct daily tasks such as driving, reading and recognizing faces.
But what nutrients are best for your eye health? In such a saturated market, finding the right vitamins and supplements can be overwhelming. Fortunately, decades of research have clarified the options.
In 1990 and 2006, The National Eye Institute sponsored two clinical trials, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2, which found that certain supplements can help delay the progression of AMD. The AREDS study evaluated the use of a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene—a pigment that helps produce Vitamin A, and zinc for patients with varying degrees of macular degeneration.
Of the study’s participants, those at high risk of developing advanced stages of AMD lowered their risk by about 25%. AREDS2 found that including the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin without beta-carotene offered even better protection against AMD.
In addition to the AREDS2 formula for AMD, researchers have found that certain dietary supplements can offer protection from several other eye conditions:
Vitamin A maintains corneal health and improves low-light vision.
A deficiency in vitamin A can cause dry eyes, impaired night vision and even blindness.
Studies have shown that the antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E may help delay the progression of cataracts.
Cataracts, which appear as milky blue clouds on the surface of the eye, are another leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Vitamin D may help protect against dry eye syndrome and prevent uveitis, an inflammation of the eye’s middle layer.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids, commonly sourced from fish, have been found to treat and reduce the risk of dry eye.
According to a European study published in 2008, omega-3 fatty acids could also help prevent neovascular (wet) macular degeneration.
Zinc plays an important role in helping the body absorb Vitamin A, and may also protect the eyes against night blindness.
Although vitamins and supplements are available over the counter, a medical professional can help evaluate what’s right for your body. Consult your ophthalmologist and primary care physician to determine what approach is best for you, especially if you’re taking other medications. Certain vitamins can interfere with prescription drug efficacy, and vice versa.
Regular eye exams are also critical to maintaining eye health, even if there are no noticeable vision problems. A comprehensive eye exam provides your eye doctor the opportunity to monitor, detect and treat developing eye conditions before permanent damage occurs. With AMD and many other eye conditions, symptoms may not become evident until the disease has progressed to the point of causing vision loss. Your eye doctor can evaluate your vision and help develop a plan of action to better preserve the health of your eyes.
About the Author
Dr. Yasaira Rodriguez is a board-certified ophthalmologist at Elmquist Eye Group. With more than 25 years of service to the Southwest Florida community, Elmquist Eye Group provides patients with a range of medical, surgical, cosmetic and emergency eye care services and optical solutions through offices in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. For more information, visit www.Elmquist.com or call 239-936-2020.
Lee Health wants to increase public awareness about the delta variant so it will be holding a virtual town hall, “COVID-19 Update: What You Need to Know,” at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24.
The Facebook Live will be interactive and will give viewers a chance to ask questions to a panel of Lee Health medical experts.
The panel will include Larry Antonucci, M.D., MBA, president and CEO of Lee Health, Stephanie Stovall, M.D., pediatric infectious diseases specialist, interim chief of Quality & Patient Safety; and moderator Lindsey Morton, creative services manager, Lee Health.
By Dr. Erin Bailey, PT with Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers
Lee Accavallo is the last one you’d want to fight in the boxing ring.
He trains vigorously four times per week, and the sound of impact from his powerful right hook echoes through the gym.
But Accavallo isn’t training to knock you out. Instead, the 67-year-old is hoping to knock out symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Accavallo is a member of FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, which offers Rock Steady Boxing group classes designed by medical professionals to alleviate some symptoms impacting the lives of those living with Parkinson’s.
“These people in here are fighting for their life,” said Accavallo, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018 and experiences nearly constant tremors on the left side of his body.
“These people that run this place change our life.”
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects an estimated 1 million Americans.
Symptoms typically develop slowly over the years, leading to a deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory functions. Individuals with Parkinson’s can experience tremors, fatigue, difficulty moving and sleeping, dizziness, anxiety, depression, loss of smell, constipation, a softer voice, an expressionless face, extremely poor posture and other conditions.
The specific cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, and there is no cure. However, individuals can manage the disease and take steps to slow its progression.
Benefits of Boxing
Boxers have a skill set that includes superb balance, hand-eye coordination and mental focus. They must be strong, yet agile and quick-moving, and establish a rhythm in the ring. Meanwhile, Parkinson’s can diminish each of those skills.
By forcing the body into a workout that requires maximum effort, speed, strength, balance and flexibility, programs like Rock Steady Boxing may be “neuroprotective,” thus working to delay the progression of symptoms.
Terry Johnson, 67, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014. An avid cyclist, Johnson bikes 30 miles daily or “only” 20 miles on days he attends a Rock Steady Boxing class. As a result, Johnson said the tremors he experiences in his left hand have not worsened over the years, and he hasn’t reported any new Parkinson’s symptoms.
“They say Rock Steady Boxing or any kind of physical activity will keep the symptoms under control,” Johnson said.
Rock Steady Boxing
Rock Steady Boxing offers a variety of classes not based on boxing ability, but rather the degree to which Parkinson’s is impacting participants’ daily activities.
Certified instructors lead Rock Steady Boxing classes, which begin with extensive warmup exercises before participants rotate through a series of stations. Participants throw jabs, hooks and uppercuts using both hands. Kickboxing is also part of the curriculum. Balance, flexibility, strength and endurance stations complete the rotation. All told, classes can last 90 minutes with only brief pauses for water breaks.
“I know that they’re working hard and they’re doing their best, and they’re motivating each other,” said Maggie Green, a wellness coordinator at FYZICAL. “Just seeing them progress is amazing.”
Rock Steady Boxing participants include men and women with varying levels of skills and athletic abilities. Some individuals have only recently received their Parkinson’s diagnosis, while others are experiencing severe symptoms and mobility challenges.
Although many are hesitant to attend traditional Parkinson’s support groups, Accavallo said Rock Steady Boxing is as much about the physical activity as it is the bonding opportunity.
“You’ll see quite a camaraderie in here; we’re a brotherhood and a sisterhood of Parkinson’s people,” Accavallo said. “It is very much a support group and an exercise class.”
About the Author
Dr. Erin Bailey, PT, is a regional director for FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, which has more than 400 locations in 45 states.
By Dr. Virginia Reed, Southwest Florida regional director for FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers
TV shows and movies often feature “super women” who can flawlessly handle all of life’s challenges.
The pressures of work and family responsibilities are no obstacles for characters like Lois Lane, Murphy Brown, Carol Brady and Clair Huxtable.
Viewers cannot help but be impressed with these strong female leads. However, we rarely see how these “super women” are helping themselves.
May is Women’s Health Month, an annual reminder for women – even “super women” – to prioritize their own health and wellness.
Finding a little “me time” can be difficult, but it’s essential. Below are four ways women can balance their health and wellness with careers, family and other life responsibilities:
Commit to an Exercise Routine
Any exercise routine, whether it’s informal or under the supervision of a medical professional, should include three components:
Strength training: Resistance training using weights, bands or heavy objects to enhance muscle function.
Endurance training: Long-duration aerobic exercises that strengthen the cardiovascular system.
Flexibility: Stretching to improve range of motion and strengthen muscles and joints.
The vision of the physical therapy profession is to transform society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience. This positions physical therapists squarely at the epicenter of advising people on how best to initiate and maintain healthy exercise habits. This is especially true for individuals who have underlining medical conditions or a history of injuries.
Follow a Nutritious Diet
Food is the fuel that powers our bodies, so premium fuel results in premium health. Much like athletes that are hyper-focused on their diets, women must prioritize nutrition to maximize their performance as well.
MyPlate, formerly known as the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, contains five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. Physicians recommend these as the core of any diet.
Some individuals cannot tolerate dairy, gluten or other foods, but luckily, a variety of alternatives are available. Consulting a licensed dietary nutritionist, especially as we age, will help address food-related topics, including meal planning, weight management, healthy cooking, food allergies, diabetes consulting, sports nutrition and digestive concerns.
Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
The American Heart Association lists four simple areas of focus to enhance your lifestyle: mental health and well-being, sleep, stress management and quit smoking.
Women are always on the go. Yet, it’s important to pause every once in a while. A few minutes of deep breathing increases oxygen levels in the blood, which increases energy levels, boosts immunity and reduces blood pressure. Oxygen is also proven to improve stress management, reduce anxiety and clear the mind.
Schedule Doctor Appointments
Insurance companies often cover the cost of annual visits to primary care physicians and dentists. In fact, they encourage those visits because early detection and prevention are keys to good health.
All doctors are devoted to improving our health and wellness. So which ones should you visit regularly? These five types of doctors should be part of every woman’s health care routine:
Primary care physician: general health, illnesses and injuries
OB-GYN: reproductive health, menopause and women’s health
Radiologist: annual mammograms for women starting at age 45, or earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer
Dermatologist: skin care
Optometrist or ophthalmologist: eye care and eye diseases
Physical therapists are not always listed among the suggested visits, but the role of a physical therapist has evolved over the past decade. The American Physical Therapy Association notes that PTs examine patients and develop treatment plans to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function and prevent disability.
Physical therapists are known predominantly for helping patients recover after injuries. They also treat patients with chronic conditions like arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, overuse injuries and muscle weakness.
Women’s bodies change after giving birth. Physical therapists address the musculoskeletal components of pregnancy and postpartum issues, including incontinence, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction and prenatal joint or muscle disfunction.
“Super women” can handle everything thrown their way, but they must make it a priority to strike the right balance between careers, families, life and personal health.
About the Author
Dr. Virginia Reed is a physical therapist and Southwest Florida regional director for FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, which has more than 400 locations in 45 states. For more information, please visit fyzical.com.