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HEALTH

The Citizen, April 16, 2015

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month National Institutes of Health

Did you know that two-thirds of the people in the world affected by visual impairments and blindness are women, even though they represent only 53 percent of the population? Women are typically responsible for taking care of their families’ health concerns and often neglect their own health, including the health of their eyes. April has been designated as Women's Eye Health and Safety Month to help educate women about the steps that they must take to make their own eye health a priority and prevent vision loss. Follow these simple steps for maintaining healthy eyes well into your golden years. • Get regular eye exams. • Know your family’s eye health history. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition. • Eat right to protect your sight. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits

from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut. • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions that can lead to vision loss such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor. • Wear protective eyewear. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores. • Quit smoking or never start. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness. • Be cool and wear your shades. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for those that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and

Many causes of vision problems are preventable. Regular eye exams should be part of every woman's health routine to minimize risk. — Photo by Shutterstock.com.

UVB radiation. • Give your eyes a rest. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can

help reduce eyestrain. • Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly. To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.

Can dietary supplements improve your mood? By Jessica Ford U.S. Army Public Health Command

Most people do not plan on feeling depressed, but depression is called the “common cold” of behavioral health issues. Almost one out of five people will have depression during their lifetimes. Some signs of depression are losing interest in things you used to enjoy or feeling sad most of the time for two or more weeks. If you are concerned about your mood, you may wonder what to do. In fact, finding help for behavioral health issues, such as a depressed mood, is an important part of maintaining personal readiness. When you are seeking out resources, you may feel overwhelmed with information. Oftentimes, people seek advice from friends, family, coworkers and the Internet. This can be confusing. Some recommendations will be helpful, but others could be harmful. Some sources may recommend

dietary supplements. Dietary supplementation may seem like an easy fix because you do not have to invest a lot of time or money into it and supplements can be taken without anyone knowing. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for depression. Although there is some evidence that having low levels of certain nutrients (for example, folate, B-12, calcium, vitamin D, iron, selenium, zinc and N-3 fatty acids) contribute to some mood problems, there is very little evidence that dietary supplements help most people who are depressed. Scientists have found that vitamins can be helpful for some women with hormone-related depression symptoms. For those who do not have a nutritional deficiency or depression, multi-ingredient vitamin supplementation has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

Despite evidence that vitamin supplementation can be helpful for people without depression, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines for Americans advise that nutrient needs be met primarily through the food that you eat. These guidelines only recommend supplement use in addition to a nutrient-dense diet if you are over the age of 50, a woman of childbearing age or if you have dark skin/are not exposed to enough sunlight. The Food and Drug Administration warns against taking in too many vitamins since there are upper limits of safety. At the end of the day, taking supplements without a health care provider's help may result in wasted money and time because it is hard to tell the difference between a mood disorder and normal, everyday sadness related to a stressful situation. The best person to discuss changes

in mood is your primary health care provider, who can help you determine if your mood change or problem is the result of depression, a normal situational response or a physical problem. If they do find that you have a mood disorder, like depression, the current gold standard treatment for depression is a type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy along with a prescription antidepressant. Additionally, you may want to have lab tests to check for a deficiency and discuss the use of vitamins or perhaps herbal remedies with your provider. Ultimately, only you and your health care team can make the best decision regarding nutritional supplementation and treatment planning for mood concerns. Editor’s note: The author is a psychologist with the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

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The Citizen, April 16, 2015  

The Citizen is the local military newspaper for the Stuttgart area. It is owned by the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart and under exclusive cont...

The Citizen, April 16, 2015  

The Citizen is the local military newspaper for the Stuttgart area. It is owned by the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart and under exclusive cont...