Most of us take our vision health for granted until it changes. But as all senior airmen will attest, visual acuity naturally declines as we age.
The human eye is composed of various parts. The iris collects light from the front of the eye. That light passes through the lens onto the retina in the back of the eye. The retina then passes the signals onto the brain, creating the images we perceive.
Two types of receptors collect the light we see – Cones & Rods. The Cones perceive Red, Green, & Blue light and are found mainly in the center of the eye. The Rods process black & white and the majority reside on the periphery. As we all learned in flight school, a significant amount of light is necessary for color vision; in dim light the cones do the majority of the work e.g. during night flying.
Following a few simple steps will help to maintain healthy eyes –
- Get plenty of rest. This cannot be over emphasized. The body only heals when it is sleeping.
- Eat well. That means fresh, whole, organic foods. Avoid processed foods. Remember, “Food product” ≠ Food
- Consider adding a vision supplement from your local health food store. Pay particular attention to ingredients such as β-Carotene which is converted into Vitamin A (aka Retinol); while of utmost importance for proper retina function, Vitamin A in high doses can be toxic. Consult your health care provider for guidance.
- Avoid tobacco products. Carbon Monoxide from smoke irreversibly binds to the hemoglobin in our blood, drastically reducing the available oxygen to our brains & retinas. This is particularly important during night operations.
- Visit your eye doctor regularly. For those of us that must wear corrective lenses, not updating to a proper prescription can actually make our eyesight worsen quicker.
Ultimately, healthy vision stems from a healthy lifestyle. Making healthy choices can lead to long and healthy careers.
Safe and Healthy Skies.