For The Kale Of It

Kale is popping up everywhere.   It’s even in a new item on Panera’s  menu — Kale and White Bean Soup. Probably a fine choice as long as you don’t take advantage of the 99 cent desert and add a Danish.

One reason for Kale’s popularity is that it’s a tremendous source of lutein and zeaxanthin.  The only part of the body where lutein and zeaxanthin can be found is in the macula. The macula portion of your retina is responsible for the sharpest part of your vision.  Age related damage to the macula results in macula degeneration and there is reason to think that adding lutein and zeaxanthin to your food intake can thicken the  protective pigment of your macula.

Nutritional advice to help prevent macula degeneration includes eating more dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale or collard greens.  Unfortunately, most people have no idea what to do with kale or collard greens. (I’m not even sure I heard of kale until just a few years ago!)

The toughest part of preparing dark green leafy vegetables is cleaning them.  But Wegman’s, and other markets, have made it easy.  The Kale I buy comes in a relatively large size bag but as long as I put a rubber band around the bag after I open it, I have found that unused Kale stays good in the fridge for about a week.

Here’s three really easy ways of adding kale to your diet:

1.  If you make shakes or smoothies, just throw a bunch of kale in.  I found it works whether you are making a sweetened smoothie or an unsweetened one.  Even had an 18 month old toddler asking for seconds!  You can drink half the smoothie in the morning and take a  container to drink the remainder during a “coffee” break. You just feel really healthy doing that.

2.  Soups are easy to make, or you can buy canned.  I make a variation of  Weight Watcher’s vegetable soup recipe.  Once your soup is heated up,  just throw in some kale.  You can throw it in at the end for “al dente”  or you can cook it soft.  Either way, it adds color, texture and lots of nutrition to any soup.

3.  If you are microwaving a frozen entree, just add some kale to the top, replace the covering that you had to unfold to put the kale on, and microwave as usual.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are also available as supplements.  But with prepared, cleaned, cut up kale now available, it’s so easy to just add it to your food instead.

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik/refractive surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Virginia.  She believes that by carefully checking your eye health and offering preventive suggestions, we can prevent small problems from becoming big problems.  GH Eye also has a superb collection of   high tech lenses and the latest in fashion frames.




Laser Pointer Maculopathy

Based on a recent case report in the Review Of Optometry, it’s possible to get the same kind of permanent retinal damage from a laser pointer directed at your eyes as it is from staring at the sun. In this case, a teenager was pointing the laser pointer at the reflection of his eyes while looking in the mirror. The result was a loss of vision – not correctible with glasses, contacts, surgery or medication. Clinically, the retinal lesion was similar to the type of lesion we see in people have who stare at the sun.

We have had millions of years of evolution of eye/brain nerve fibers so that even babies won’t stare at the sun. Unfortunately, laser pointers sometimes look like regular flashlights and when children (or adults) play with them, they may not realize how serious they are. It’s not as uncomfortable to look at a laser pointer as it is to look at the sun, so there is probably not a quick enough reflex to turn away.

It’s nice to know that some problems have a really easy fix. Don’t buy laser pointers, don’t use them, don’t leave them where kids, friends or colleagues can pick them up and look into them because they think its just a penlight. It’s the rare power point presentation that would suffer (any more than they already do) without the help of a laser pointer.

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area. Her practice at GH Eye has a superb collection of both basic and hi-tech lenses and latest fashion frames.

What Your Eyes Say About Your Health

Yesterday, the Wall St Journal, in it’s Personal Journal section, reported something eye doctors have known for a long time–changes in the eye may signal diseases elsewhere in the body. These diseases include diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer and others.

The article specifically discussed the benefits of this technology as a method of screening for many medical conditions. I’m happy to say that I have utilized Optomap technology in my optometry practice for over 10 years!

The Optomap instantaneously captures more than 80% of your retina in one panoramic image. More traditional methods show smaller sections of the retina at one time. Plus, Optomap technology allows us to store a digital record of your retina for future comparisons. Optomap is not the same as retinal photography. Typical retinal photographs can only view 30 degrees of the retina. Optomap can image 200 degrees – a huge difference! And, although a dilated view can show up to about 240 degrees – the quality of that view depends on how well the patient can hold their eye steady while bright lights are shining in their eye. and that’s only if the patient allows you to place dilating drops in their eyes.

Bottom line – Optomap and Dilation do not show exactly the same thing. The most comprehensive eye and medical health information occurs when I perform both Optomap and Dilation.
However, there are many patients who simply do not want to be dilated. Optomap is the very best technology for those patients. And, it’s a great test for kids.

Which tests we perform is always related to the patient’s eye health and medical history. What I find works best for many of our patients is to alternate – some years we perform Optomap testing and other years we perform dilation. That way we are always checking thoroughly, but getting slightly different information each time. Optomap is a powerful diagnostic tool and we are pleased to offer it at GH Eye!