I write this on a wet Monday morning with a reasonably stiff southerly blowing in to remind us that Autumn officially has only a week left. We’re under a month away from winter solstice. Days are already short and we’ve had our first frost. This is not my favourite time of year, but there are reasons that winter can be good for our eyes.
Winter can also bring some key changes to the nature of the light that enters our eyes and the levels of key nutrients available to our retinas (with the right diets). Here are two reasons why winter is can promote good eye health.
Winter brings shorter days and also a lower UV index but you should still look to wear uv protection at altitude.
In winter months the southern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and so the days are shorter. There are fewer hours of daylight for us to be out in the sun, and there are probably fewer sunny days. UV is a part of sunlight and it is a known cause of many different eye diseases, from pterygium to macular degeneration.
A lower UV index and fewer hours of daylight mean that there is less potential for UV related harm to our eyes in winter. Never the less still very important to wear eye protection for snow sports and spending time on the water. This protection is most commonly sunglasses, but our lenses are generally coated with UV blocking coatings as a standard. Many UV absorbing contact lenses are available if you are active or wear contact lenses year round. Make sure that you check the packaging or contact us if you are not sure.
Look at your contact lens labelling to check if they absorb UV.
Contact us if you need more information about anything relating to UV protection.
The low sun position means that we are often looking directly into the sun and that there is more reflection off surfaces like roads and dashboards. Many people wear sunglasses more in winter time than they do in summer when the sun is higher in the sky.
Nuisance glare is particularly visually destructive in older people who have early cataracts or are unable to recover from bright lights as fast. Good sunglasses are important and the best sunglasses for this reflected glare are polarised.
Most brands and even styles of sunglasses are available in polarised options and we are able to put your prescription into a polarised sunglass lens. Contact us if you’d like to know more.
Serengeti Brand Sunglasses provide a wide range of lenses designed for different conditions in quality frames. They’re available in prescription lenses too.
Some of the most important sources of micro-nutrients and vitamins vital for retinal health, now used for the management of macular degeneration, are present in winter greens. If you prefer eating seasonal food like we do, winter is the time when the cruciferous vegetables are in season and these veggies are spectacularly important for your eye health as they contain lutein, zeaxanthins and the anti-oxidant vitamins C and E. Add some carrots or kumara and you get the full suite of vitamins essential for retinal health, especially as we get older.
Listed below are the ingredients of most of the nutraceutical treatments on sale for macular degeneration.
There are an almost unlimited number of recipes using the ingredients above, but I think the one below probably appeals to me the most. No need to boil your brussels sprouts ever again…
INGREDIENTS ROASTED INGREDIENTS & REDUCED VINEGAR 200g Puy or green lentils 3 medium carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, halved crosswise 1⁄2 cauliflower, in florets 250g brussels sprouts, stalks trimmed, sprouts halved 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 1⁄2 cup balsamic vinegar METHOD ROASTED INGREDIENTS & REDUCED VINEGAR
Put the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put the carrots, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and lentils in a bowl and toss with the oil and salt. Spread this mixture evenly over a large baking tray. Roast for 15 minutes then remove the tray from the oven, stir, spread out again and roast for another 15 minutes or until golden and crunchy.
Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce by three-quarters then set aside.
When the vegetables and lentils are cooked, divide the kumara and pine nut puree among 4 plates, top with the vegetables and lentils and drizzle with the reduced vinegar.
INGREDIENTS KUMARA & PINE NUT PUREE 70g pine nuts 1kg kumara, peeled, chopped 100ml cream METHOD KUMARA & PINE NUT PUREE
In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts over low heat for about 5 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Set aside.
Put the kumara in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes or until the kumara is tender. Drain well.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan to just before boiling then remove from the heat.
Put the pine nuts in a food processor with a couple of pieces of kumara and process until smooth. Add the rest of the kumara and the cream and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Process in bursts until smooth, being careful not to overwork it.
Bon Appetit and look after your eyesight!