When I was a kid, there was nothing I wanted more than to have braces and glasses. After three rounds of orthodontia and more than 20 years of glasses, I can say: be careful what you wish for. But while glasses are cool now (thanks, hipsters!), I’d much prefer to wear my frames for style, rather than for the safety of myself and others. Luckily, there are a few things we can do to help protect our eyes – whether you have four eyes or two.

LUTEIN & ZEAXANTHIN

Lutein (pronounced, “loo-teen”) and zeaxanthin (pronounced, “zee-uh-zan-thin”), are nutrients with antioxidant properties that have a yellow-reddish color and are found both in nature and in the human body.

In nature, lutein and zeaxanthin are most abundant in vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, and tomatoes. They help protect the plants from too much sunlight by absorbing excess light energy. In the body, lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the macula of the eye – they give the macula its yellowish color – and they serve a similar purpose: to protect the eye from too much light, especially that from high-energy rays called blue light.

EYESIGHT & AGING

Prior to one’s 30th birthday, aging is a good thing. Aged cheese. Wine. Fine leather goods. But shortly after the quarter-life mark, the wheels on the bus start to get a little squeaky. Lower backs can no longer stand up to hours of couch surfing. Joints begin to pop and click. And, for some, words on menus and street signs get a little less clear.

Lutein and zeaxanthin make up most of the eye’s protective layer known as macular pigment. The thicker and more dense the macular pigment, the better your visual acuity, i.e. distinguishing between objects, seeing fine details, and visual processing speed.* Studies show that you can increase your body’s natural stores of lutein and zeaxanthin and improve the density of the macular pigment by adding these powerful nutrients to your diet.

SURROUNDED BY SCREENS

But perhaps you’re a spring chicken, years away from having to pay your own cell phone bill, or, maybe all your grandparents lived ‘til 100 with 20/20 vision. Good genes and youth still may be no match for the ever-increasing number of hours we spend in front of screens.

According to a 2015 survey by the Vision Council, 30% of those over the age of 10 spend more than 9 hours a day on digital devices, while about 24% of children spend more than 3 hours a day using a digital device. As more and more schools switch to digital-based learning tools in the classroom, the days of notebooks, pencil cases, and Trapper Keepers are numbered.

Today, many kids learn how to type on an iPhone before they can even write their own names.

While technology has many benefits, one drawback is blue light. Blue light rays are part of the visible light spectrum with the shortest wavelengths and the highest energy.

Sunlight is our main source of blue light – it’s what makes the sky look blue – but digital devices such as LED lighting, televisions, computers, and smartphones also emit significant amounts of blue light in high concentrations. Unlike UV, or, ultraviolet light, which the human eye is very good at blocking, virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. This is important, as studies have shown that too much exposure to blue light can negatively impact eyesight. Coupled with longer duration of LED screen usage – and thus greater exposure to blue light – our eyes are more vulnerable to potential damage from blue light than ever before.

You can help defend your eyes against the ever-present onslaught of blue light by downloading a blue light filter to your computer and smartphone, or donning a pair of SUPER attractive, blue light-blocking goggles. You can also consume, you guessed it, lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to help filter blue light by improving the density of the macular pigment.*

LET’S EAT!

The body cannot make lutein and zeaxanthin on its own, so the only way to get more of these essential nutrients is to eat them. The best dietary sources are green, yellow, and orange vegetables, and egg yolks.

For extra antioxidant awesomeness, GET EXCITED, because we will soon be launching our SmartyPants Masters Complete gummies and SmartyPants Teen Complete gummies which include FloraGLOâ Lutein, the most clinically researched lutein brand worldwide, and OPTISHARPâ Natural Zeaxanthin, a zeaxanthin that’s naturally sourced from marigolds. Yay!

If you’re dying to know more about antioxidants and how you can help support your body from the inside out, read on!

How to Eat Antioxidants All Day

Can Food Prevent Sun Damage

What to Eat Before and After You Run in the Sun

Posted on July 12, 2017