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Eat Right For This Overlooked Aspect of Kids' Health

About two weeks ago, I received a letter from my daughter’s school. It said that, unfortunately, she had not passed her eye test. I was not surprised. Her father and I both have strong cases of myopia and astigmatism, and we have been wearing glasses since childhood. However, that did not comfort me in any level.

I couldn’t help but feel sad for her.

I've worn glasses since I was 4 years old, and I remember not been able to do as many activities as I wished because my glasses were always falling, leaning more than the Tower of Pisa or getting in the way. But everything changed when I turned 18 and was eligible for Lasik eye surgery. That was the best gift my parents ever gave me.

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For the first time, I was able to see by myself and admire the brightness and vibrancy of the colors around me. I truly felt alive. It was the most incredible feeling ever. That was 12 years ago, no counting please, and our current technology is way faster and better. As a mom, and a former four-eyes, I wanted to get as much helpful information as possible about childrens eye health. So I reached out for tips from Dr. Nathan Schramm, O.D. He is a Certified Nutrional Specialist who showed me how what we eat can make us see better.

If your child suffers from nearsightedness, make sure she has the correct prescription and uses her eyewear at all times to avoid stressing the eyes. Another thing is to monitor the use of electronic devices and have the eyes rest for at least 20 minutes in between usage. If glasses are needed, there is also Orthokeratology lenses (or Ortho-K or CRT). These contact lenses are worn during sleep time and removed in the morning. They temporarily reshape the cornea to reduce refractive issues such as myopia and astigmatism. They give the child clear vision throughout the day — perfect for encouraging a normal life — and slow the progression of nearsightedness. They allow kids to play sports where there is water or dirt without having to worry about glasses.

The most important part of eye health, though, is nutrition. We are what we eat. Providing children with a balanced diet gives them tools for a healthy life.

I've worn glasses since I was 4 years old, and I remember not been able to do as many activities as I wished because my glasses were always falling, leaning more than the Tower of Pisa or getting in the way.

Three important tips to keep your eye on:

Carrots are an old wives’ tale. Yes, they have beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid found in the eyes. But it's certainly not the only or most effective one. Lutein and zeaxanthin have greater impact on the health of the eyes, so make sure to include green and yellow veggies like spinach, kale, squash and orange bell peppers, in the kids’ diets. I know they are difficult to present to picky eaters, but an easy tip is to blend them together and mix them in soups. Or place them on a cute plate with some ranch dressing.

Make them berry-happy with raspberries, blueberries, acai berry, goji and strawberries — naturally sweet foods that help them have healthy eyes. Berries can be added onto milkshakes, ice creams, cupcakes or salads. Many studies have shown that kids who take in high portions of processed sugars are more likely to develop myopia.

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Be cold-hearted when it comes to fish. Always choose coldwater fishes like salmon, trout, herring, anchovies and sardines. Tuna and mackerel are great too, but they could have higher levels of mercury, so eat those in moderation. These fishes are a great source of Vitamin D, ideal to keep little bones and teeth strong, and are full with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 has been shown to keep heart, hair, nails, skin — and pretty much everything else — looking beautiful and staying healthy. Stuff you'll notice with your healthy, well-fed eyes.

Image via Twenty20/Yemlepikoule

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