Blue Light Hazard- Youth at Greatest Risk

We are all involved in an experiment right now… and our eyes are the petri dishes!!  Please hear me….our children are at the greatest risk!!   We have no idea what is going to happen to the health of our kid’s eyes as they get older.  I want to shout it from the rooftops the dangers of blue light.  As your community eye care professional… it is my responsibility to educate you about these dangers.  I am starting with our youth, and then in subsequent blogs… I will discuss further the other dangers that blue light poses.  I fear for our children’s future as it relates to their eye health!!

What is blue light?  It is the blue part of the visible light spectrum- between 400 and 500 nanometers.

High energy visible light graph

The sun is our biggest exposure.  However, now we are exposed to indoor blue light: fluorescent lighting, compact fluorescent lighting, LED lighting and LED screens.  It is an overexposure to blue light that is damaging.  As it is a cumulative lifetime exposure to blue light that causes photo-oxidative retinal damage that leads to Macular Degeneration.  Due to advancements in technology, we are exposed to more blue light today than at any point in human history. We can’t get away from electronic devices… it is not realistic… they are a part of us now…almost like another appendage.

You ask… why are children at more risk?  They have shorter arms (the closer the device- the more intense the energy), larger pupils, and very clear crystalline lenses which allows blue light to enter at full strength.  There is also a protective pigmented layer in the macula that filters blue light (more to come on this later), but it does not start developing until our early 20’s.  Therefore, not only can more blue light get into kid’s eyes, but it can do more damage.

In addition to time spent outdoors, a 2012 study showed that kids age 8-18 years old spent an average of 9 hours on electronic screens held close to their eyes. WoW!!

Kid and Phone

So…. What can we do about it? I don’t think you will be able to take away your teenager’s Iphone!!  No, I don’t think that’s an option… I have a teenager… I know!!

As of yet, there is only one lens that filters 100% of the harmful blue light.   It is called a BluTech lens.  It is not a tint… it has ocular lens pigment (our natural protection within our eyes) that is infused into the lens.  They are available as an indoor lens and an outdoor lens.  You can get them in prescription or non-prescription, as well as clip-ons to go over your current eyewear.  I do not let my kids use an electronic device without them… and now, they don’t even want to.  They say they can barely stand to look at a LED screen without their BluTech’s on.  In fact, to protect my own eyes, I don’t get on a device without my BluTechs!!

To learn more go to: www.blutechlenses.com

 

In Good Health,

 

Dr. Kim Walters

Established in 1996 and at the center of it all on Main Street, Weaverville Realty is a boutique real estate firm that specializes in Buncombe and Madison County properties, yet covers all of Western North Carolina.

Century 21 Mountain Lifestyles is located on Highway 25-70, 1/2 mile beyond the Lowes-Walmart Center.  We specialize in Weaverville, Buncombe & Madison Counties; homes & acreage, and have since 1990.  Our agents are all experienced and average eight years of devoted , knowledgeable, ethical service to our clients.  Century 21 is the oldest and largest organization in the U.S. and in the world.  We are affiliated with Century 21 Mountain Lifestyles in South Asheville and Hendersonville.   Allow the power of Century 21 and the friendly service and experience of our office to assist you in purchasing or selling.  We have a national referral service and can assist you in buying or selling anywhere in the world.  We are Weaverville’s most professional and experienced real estate office.

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, and it is a very fitting time for me to start writing my own blogs.  For those of you who have been my patient over the years (WoW!!  It has been 18 years since I opened my practice up cold in Weaverville)- you know how important it is here for us as a team at Optix Eye Care, that we educate you about prevention for this devastating disease.

I had the privilege of serving at Mission’s Low Vision Center for 7 years, and that experience drove home for me a passion for prevention.  I saw patient after patient with vision loss and the impact that had on the quality of their life- not to mention how greatly it impacted their family and caregivers.

I believe it is my purpose on this earth to hopefully make a difference in our community to get the word out about the macula and how to keep it healthy for a lifetime. 

My profession is sacred!!  I get to look into people’s eyes and witness a miracle.  I absolutely never get tired of it.  However, every time I look into a person’s eyes and view their maculae, I hold my breath.  I am just waiting to see changes that may already diagnose them with ARMD, or I see precursor signs of the disease.  ARMD is NOT a normal aging process.  It used to be a disease that only affected the elderly.  Unfortunately, I am seeing this disease in younger and younger people.  My youngest is 19 years old!!!  I see it every day and multiple times each dayL

Did you know there is actually a way to tell if you are at risk for developing this disease long before your eye care physician can see precursor signs?  That is my goal… and that is the true heart of preventive medicine… stay tuned for more details on this later….

ARMD is more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s COMBINED!!  What?!#%!  It is becoming an EPIDEMIC.  How do we respond to an epidemic?  Education and prevention.  That is my gift to you!!!  I am here to serve you and help you know what you can do to protect your precious sightJ

Each week this month I will reveal to you important ways you can make the most impact in protecting your maculae.  I especially want for you to know what a great experiment we are living in right now with the overwhelming addition of blue light that we are exposed to each and every day…. and our kids are at the most risk.  It absolutely frightens me for the future of our kid’s eye health.

Before I go… I truly want to thank my team at Optix Eye Care!!!  I am so grateful for each soul that is in my midst every day.  I also want to thank my patients for their trust in us for taking care of their eyes.  It is the biggest complement when our patients send their family and friends to us.  Thank you!  Thank you! Thank you!

It is my desire to get out in our community and share my expertise in prevention for macular degeneration.  I would love to come to your place of business, school, meeting…. whatever….  If you are interested in learning more, please contact Kristen:  [email protected]

In Good Health!

Dr. Kim Walters

We have generated 8.88 MWh of power since connection to the power grid at the end of June, 2015 with the solar array on Mangum Pottery’s rooftop.

We are excited to have installed a 10 killowatt solar system, 36 pannels, generating approximately 60% of the power we consume. We wont know for sure until the end of one year of power production.

To view monitoring of our solar system, go to:

https://monitoringpublic.solaredge.com/solaredge-web/p/kiosk?guid=1fe10019-daa0-47f6-b68b-455a75542a1f

Weaverville is the perfect place to explore while visiting the area to enjoy our wonderful Autumn season.  Just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Weaverville offers unique restaurants, shopping, and places to stay.  Stop by and enjoy!

Craggy Gardens on the Parkway is a local favorite.  Here is some info on the area:  Hiking Craggy

This Friday and Saturday, September 11 and 12, Miya Gallery is having a trunk show featuring the jewelry/art of ELIZABETH HAKE.  

10:00 to 5:00 both days.  20 N. Main St.

HAKE DOUBLE RING

 

The Benefits of Balancing your Blood Sugar:

Maureen McDonnell, RN  

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the buzz regarding the importance of balancing your blood sugar level.  Keeping it stable not only prevents excessive weight gain and obesity, but it’s also critical for preventing Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer and according to these popular health authors; David Perlmutter, MD and Mark Hyman MD: stabilizing blood sugar levels will also help prevent Dementia.

Without overwhelming you with statistics, let me just set the stage with a few of the more startling ones:

  • 36% of adults and one in three children in the US are overweight or obese.
  • Childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes have both tripled in the last 30 years.
  • Type 2 Diabetes affects 28 million people in the US (including 12 million kids)
  • 1/3 of Diabetics have heart disease.

If there is a silver lining in this depressing list of health statistics it has to do with the fact that these diseases are, more often than not, related to imbalanced blood sugar levels (which stem from diet and lifestyle).  The good news: they are preventable and in some cases reversible.  So, if you (or someone you care about) is affected by any of these ailments and you haven’t already taken a closer look at this blood sugar issue, it may be time to do so.

Basically, it comes down to the fact that whenever you raise your body’s blood sugar or glucose level by consuming quickly absorbed sugar-laden or processed foods such as juices, cookies, candy, cereals, soda, white flour products (pasta, bagels and bread), or even certain high glycemic fruits (including bananas or melons) or starchy vegetables, your body will respond by raising your insulin levels.  When consuming these types of food is only a very occasional indulgence, the body will usually be able to handle the stress.   However, when this “sugar-insulin roller coaster ride” becomes the norm, it leads to your cells becoming resistant to insulin.  The syndrome that ensues has many names including: insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, syndrome X and pre-diabetes.   As the problem worsens you gain fat (insulin tells the body to store fat, usually in the belly) inflammation develops, and the aging process accelerates.  According to Mark Hyman, MD, author of The Blood Sugar Solution “insulin resistance is the single most important phenomenon that leads to rapid and premature aging and all its resultant diseases including heart disease, stroke, dementia and cancer.”    It’s amazing to me how one physiological function, when gone awry, has so many negative repercussions?

An early sign that you may be moving in this direction (and so you’ll want to consider making some changes) includes periods of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.  This early warning sign usually occurs after you eat too much sugar or refined carbs or skip a meal.  In these cases, you many find you feel anxious, irritable, fatigued, depressed or even experience panic attacks.  If the pattern of consuming empty calorie, sugar laden foods continue, your cells will become resistant to insulin and your blood sugar level will stay elevated because the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to deal with the consistently high blood sugar levels. When this happens insulin resistance or pre diabetes will turn into a full-fledged diagnosis of Diabetes.

So Take Action Now

Tips for Balancing Blood Sugar Levels and therefore minimizing the risks for developing Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Inflammation, Premature Aging, Heart Disease, Cancer and Dementia are:

1. Avoid empty calorie, sugar-laden or HFCS containing foods, sweetened drinks, diet drinks, refined carbs (pasta, rice, potatoes etc.) ….basically all processed foods

2. Avoid artificial sweeteners which disrupt the normal hormonal and neurological signals that control hunger and create that feeling of fullness (satiety). Studies have shown artificial sweeteners also slow down metabolism and trigger the consumption of more calories.

3. Understand the “addictive” qualities of sugar and processed foods.

4. Identify and eliminate allergy causing foods. The main culprits are gluten, dairy, sugar, corn and soy.

5. In addition to filling your plate 3/4 full with organic vegetables, consume modest amounts (usually the amount that would fit inside your cupped hand) of high quality protein rich foods every 4 hours. These include: organic chicken, eggs, turkey, grass fed beef, organic nuts, seeds, soaked beans and vegan, non GMO protein powder (used to make  green smoothies or “quick pick-me-up”protein balls.)   There’s some controversy regarding grains.  However  many nutritional experts when making recommendations for balancing blood sugar levels suggest using only small amounts on occasion of organic quinoa and or brown rice.

6. Don’t be afraid of healthy fats including: organic olive oil, nuts, organic virgin coconut oil and avocados. Good fats are not what make us fat, sugar and processed foods are doing the damage!

7. Provide your body with appropriate nutrients supplementation. My favorite 4 are:

8. A good comprehensive multi-vitamin (with adequate levels of chromium, magnesium, zinc & B vitamins). In today’s world even with a perfect diet when you look at depleted soils, genetic alterations, increased stress, and extra nutrient demands caused by toxins in the environment, it’s almost impossible to get all we need solely from our diet.

9. A mercury-free source of Omega 3 fatty acids (controls inflammation, metabolism and help regulate blood sugar levels)

10. Vitamin D (80% of Americans are deficient in this important nutrient)

11. A high quality probiotic: it’s impossible to overemphasize the value of a healthy gut and it’s impact on every aspect of health

12. Exercise: helps to stabilize your blood sugar level and makes your cells more responsive to insulin.

13. Manage stress: chronic stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol which causes increased blood sugar levels, elevated cholesterol, and promotes the accumulation of belly fat.

14. Reduce inflammation:  The causes of insulin resistance and the causes of inflammation are one and the same: sugar, refined flours, processed oils (corn & soy-sources of pro-inflammatory Omega 6s),  food allergies or sensitivities (gluten, dairy etc), chronic low grade infections, imbalanced gut flora (yeast overgrowth), toxins (see July’s article explaining how toxins are stored in fat cells and how important it is to “flush out the toxins” when losing weight and or improving one’s health),  stress and a sedentary lifestyle.

In attempting to prevent or reverse the relatively new, life-restricting diseases of our day, it turns out the food we put in our mouth is powerful medicine.  Although the endless commercials sponsored by the drug companies would have us believe that the solution lies in innovative pharmaceuticals designed to control the spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, the truth is you can’t outsmart Mother Nature!   The age-old adage “let food be thy medicine” is key and could not be more relevant a tool for reversing this trend.  By focusing on the causes of illness, shifting our diets and implementing a few of the lifestyle suggestions listed above we can break the vicious cycle of unhealthy habits that have permeated our culture and enjoy life  the way I believe it was meant to be-  unencumbered by modern day ailments.

 

Bio: Maureen is the Health Editor of WNC Woman Magazine and has been a holistic, nutritionally oriented Registered Nurse for more than 30 years.  She currently coaches individuals on methods to regain their health and vitality via the  30 days to Healthy Living Plan.  This program focuses on balancing blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, weight loss and flushing out toxins.  Maureen is also the cofounder of Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet (sokhop.com) and an Executive Area Manager with Arbonne International.    For additional information and or support, contact her at [email protected]