If you’re a client of mine then you’re at least a little aware of how important eyes, visual skills, and visual reflexes are to our health and performance. As part of the Z-Health Performance System, we’re taught that vision sits atop our neurological hierarchy. If we have a visual impairment (could be anything from a phoria, a convergence/divergence issue, diplopia or other issues) then literally our survival is at risk. Now there’s more information regarding the far-reaching importance of our eyes to our health.
The New York Times has a fascinating article titled Aging of Eyes is Blamed for Range of Health Woes. The article discusses research from the University of Kansas that reveals the impact of aging eyes on our circadian rhythms (aka body clock) and by extension our general health. The article states, “This internal clock relies on light to function properly, and studies have found that people whose circadian rhythms are out of sync, like shift workers, are at greater risk for a number of ailments, including insomnia, heart disease and cancer.”
Of particular importance is the role of blue light, the cells that pick up the light, and melatonin production. It seems that some cataract surgery may hinder the relationship between these factors. Here’s what the article says:
“Researchers in Sweden studied patients who had cataract surgery to remove their clouded lenses and implant clear intraocular lenses. They found that the incidence of insomnia and daytime sleepiness was significantly reduced. Another study found improved reaction time after cataract surgery.
‘We believe that it will eventually be shown that cataract surgery results in higher levels of melatonin, and those people will be less likely to have health problems like cancer and heart disease,’ [researcher] Dr. Patricia Turner said.
That is why [researcher] Dr. Martin Mainster and Dr. Turner question a practice common in cataract surgery. About one-third of the intraocular lenses implanted worldwide are blue-blocking lenses, intended to reduce the risk of macular degeneration by limiting exposure to potentially damaging light.
But there is no good evidence showing that people who have cataract surgery are at greater risk of macular degeneration. And evidence of the body’s need for blue light is increasing, some experts say.
‘You can always wear sunglasses if you’re in a brilliant environment that’s uncomfortable. You can remove those sunglasses for optimal circadian function, but you can’t take out the filters if they’re permanently implanted in your eyes,’ Dr. Mainster said.
Because of these light-filtering changes, Dr. Mainster and Dr. Turner believe that with age, people should make an effort to expose themselves to bright sunlight or bright indoor lighting when they cannot get outdoors. Older adults are at particular risk, because they spend more time indoors.”
Fascinating stuff!!! (By the way, when you workout, do you exercise your eyes? Do you consider your eye muscles? Think about it.)