Childhood vision problems negatively alter brain function, new study finds
(NaturalHealth365) Amblyopia – known as lazy eye – is the leading vision disorder in childhood, affecting as many as 3 out of 100 kids. And, if left untreated, it can persist into adulthood.
It should be noted that this condition involves more than just the eyes. In fact, new research reveals how abnormal vision can negatively affect brain function in childhood.
Lazy eye can bring about unwanted changes to the brain
As the authors of a recent study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science note, amblyopia is “characterized clinically by decreased visual acuity in the affected eye that cannot be entirely accounted for by refractive error or pathology.”
In other words, there is a miscommunication between the eye and the brain, even if there is nothing structurally wrong with the eye. The visual processing center in the brain “ignores” visual information coming from the lazy eye, and that eye grows weaker – a virtual “if you don’t use it, you lose it” effect.
The researchers deduced that amblyopia ultimately impairs the development of brain areas related to spatial attention. This has serious implications for a child trying to attend to visual information and maintain depth perception while in class, on the sports field, or out and about in the community!
The researchers go on to say that based on their findings, “new treatments [for amblyopia] should also target higher-level processes such as attention.”
Take action: How to protect your eye health – at any age
One of the most important things you can do to protect your child’s eye health and promote healthy brain development is to (first) have his or her eyes examined regularly to improve the chances of early detection and treatment.
So, even if your children don’t complain of vision problems, bring them to an eye doctor at or around age 6 months, 3 years, and 5-6 years, according to the American Optometric Association.
Of course, protecting your eyesight is essential at any age. And, while not all eye problems are 100% preventable (genetics play a large role), there are several things you can do to optimize eye health:
- Eat a diet rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits loaded with nutrients like Vitamin A, C, and E.
- Avoid a high carbohydrate intake, especially poor quality carbs that are high on the glycemicindex (meaning fast-digestible carbs which easily spike your blood sugar). This includes processed carbs such as pasta, bread, and cereals.
- Don’t smoke, and quit if you haven’t kicked the habit yet. Smoking increases a person’s risk for cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, and more. Fortunately, after you stop using cigarettes, your risk for eye health diseases drops to as low as non-smokers.
Simply put, there is always hope, we can dramatically improve the health of our family with simple changes to diet and lifestyle. Find a good (integrative) healthcare provider to support your goals and take action today. The reward is always worth the effort.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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