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Can You Be Addicted to the Sun?

It might sound odd, but sunlight releases endorphins that make you feel good. Learn about other addictions that can sneak up on you.
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Thursday, June 04, 2015
Can You Be Addicted to the Sun?
Can You Be Addicted to the Sun?

It might sound odd, but sunlight releases chemicals in your body called endorphins that make you feel good. Learn about other addictions that can sneak up on you.
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5 truths about protecting your eyes

Also: New research on lowering cholesterol; 5 ways to protect your eyes from AMD.
June 4, 2015
Harvard Medical School

5 truths about protecting your eyes

Of your five senses, which one are you most afraid of losing? If you're like most people, your answer is your ability to see. Because our eyesight is so precious, it's no wonder that myths abound about what can damage our eyes — and what can protect them. Here, we debunk five common myths — and tell you how to truly keep your eyes healthy.

Myth: Doing eye exercises will delay the need for glasses.

Fact: Eye exercises will not improve or preserve vision or reduce the need for glasses. Your vision depends on many factors, including the shape of your eyeball and the health of the eye tissues, neither of which can be significantly altered with eye exercises.

Product Page - The Aging Eye
As the eyes age, problems with vision become more common. Learn how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of specific eye diseases — cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy — and what steps you can take to prevent or treat them before your vision deteriorates.

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Myth: Reading in dim light will worsen your vision.

Fact: Dim lighting will not damage your eyesight. However, it will tire your eyes out more quickly. The best way to position a reading light is to have it shine directly onto the page, not over your shoulder. A desk lamp with an opaque shade pointing directly at the reading material is ideal.

Myth: Carrots are the best food for the eyes.

Fact: Carrots, which contain vitamin A, are indeed good for the eyes. But fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, which contain more antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, are even better. Antioxidants may even help protect the eyes against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Just don't expect them to prevent or correct basic vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Myth: It's best not to wear glasses or contact lenses all the time. Taking a break from them allows your eyes to rest.

Fact: If you need glasses or contacts for distance or reading, use them. Not wearing your glasses will strain your eyes and tire them out instead of resting them. However, it will not worsen your vision or lead to eye disease.

Myth: Staring at a computer screen all day is bad for the eyes.

Fact: Using a computer does not damage your eyes. However, staring at a computer screen all day can contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes. People who stare at a computer screen for long periods tend not to blink as often as usual, which can cause the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable.  To help prevent eyestrain, adjust the lighting so it doesn't create a glare or harsh reflection on the screen, rest your eyes briefly every 20 minutes, and make a conscious effort to blink regularly so that your eyes stay well lubricated.

For more information about keeping your eyes healthy, buy The Aging Eye, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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News and Views from the Harvard Health Blog

Combination of a cholesterol-lowering statin and ezetimibe lowers risk of a heart attack or stroke

High cholesterol is a key culprit in the development of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States and many other developed countries. We know that lowering cholesterol helps prevent heart attacks and strokes. How low should you go? New research published online today in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests the lower, the better.

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5 ways to protect your eyes from AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition in which the macula, the part of the eye that's responsible for your sharpest and most detailed vision, begins to thin and break down, causing vision loss. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.

There is no surefire way to prevent AMD. However, there are things you can do to delay its onset or reduce its severity. Here's how:

  1. Smoking can speed up AMD damage. If you smoke, quit.

  2. Sunlight is thought to possibly promote AMD. Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats.

  3. Research also suggests that certain nutrients help prevent macular degeneration. Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables — such as spinach, collard greens, and kale — that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are key for eye health.

  4. For people at high risk of developing the advanced stages of the "wet" form of AMD, high-dose combinations of antioxidant vitamins and minerals may lower their risk by about 25%. However, supplements don't seem to help people who don't have AMD or who have early AMD.

  5. Ask your doctor about supplements if you have intermediate or advanced dry AMD or wet AMD. It's unclear whether omega-3 supplements are beneficial for AMD, but eating fish and other foods high in these nutrients may still be worthwhile for preserving optimal vision and overall good health.

For more information on keeping your eyes healthy, buy The Aging Eye, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. 

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In this issue: Myths about cancer causes, tai chi for less stress, tips to stay asleep and more.

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