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Health Q&A

Posted December 12, 2012 in Advice Column, West Des Moines

Q: How does technology affect vision care and eye health?

A: Spectacle lenses have seen major advances in the past few years. Available now are “digital lenses” that are different from conventional lenses in two distinct ways. First, these lenses utilize computer software to design and map out the entire lens surface. Conventional lenses are based off molds that have been around for decades. Secondly, “digital lenses” are surfaced from a diamond-tip tool that is up to 25 times more precise than conventional molded lenses. The benefits of “digital lenses” are increased clarity and less distortion when looking through any area of the lens.

Technology has also created new diagnostic and screening tools for eye health evaluation. A technology called optical coherence tomography (OCT) allows for viewing of the retina, and other eye structures, with unparalleled detail. This noninvasive test is vital for diagnosing and treating glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other conditions. Another breakthrough, known as the Optomap from Optos, enables an ultra wide-field view of the retina. Often these views are acquired without using dilation drops. Not only is viewing the retina important for early detection of eye diseases, but common systemic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and other vascular disorders can be apparent when examining the retinal blood vessels.

At Vision Park Family Eye Care, we continue to offer our patients the newest and greatest in eye care technologies both during their exam and for their visual needs.

Information provided by Dr. Thomas Augustin, Vision Park Family Eye Care, 640 S. 50th St. Suite 2180, West Des Moines, 225-8667.

Q: Why do computer games pose dental risks?

A: A study of young gamers suggests that those who spend substantial time at the screen are more than twice as likely to develop tooth decay as youngsters with more active lifestyles. Though computer games have long been identified as contributing to childhood obesity, keeping youngsters from more active pursuits, this study of youngsters between the ages of 12 and 16, is the first to identify the dental danger.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Iowa, found that teenagers are more likely to snack on sugary foods while absorbed for hours in computer games. The study also found that youngsters whose parents set rules for screen time were at less risk.

Sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque, which is the sticky coating we all have on our teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that cause tooth decay. When we eat or drink something sugary, our teeth can be under siege for up to an hour. This is why it is better to keep intake of sugary foods to regular meal times, after which a person may be able to brush, or at least rinse, their teeth. Talk with your dentist about ways to protect your and your children’s teeth.

Information provided by Des Moines Dental Group, 708 First Ave S., 967-6611.

Q: What nutrients are beneficial to my vision?

A: Everyone knows that we should be consuming a wide variety of foods to obtain all the nutrients possible, but did you know that these nutrients could help preserve your vision? Making sure you get the recommended amount of the following may reduce your risk for certain eye diseases, including cataracts and macular degeneration.

• Lutein and Zeaxanthin: leafy greens — spinach, kale, chard or collard greens.

• Vitamin A: liver, butternut squash, red pepper and carrots.

• Vitamin C: oranges, strawberries, kiwi, papaya and bell peppers.

• Vitamin E: nuts, sunflower seeds and fortified cereals.

• Zinc: oysters, crab and seeds.

Dry eye syndrome is another eye condition that can benefit from proper nutrition. To benefit dry eyes, it is recommended to consume about 2000 mg of omega 3 fatty acids with EPA and DHA.

• Omega 3 fatty acids: salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts.

Consult with your physician before adding supplements or making drastic changes in your diet.

Information provided by Dr. Lisa Lansink, One Hour Optical, 4100 University Ave., West Des Moines, 244-1317.

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