As more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of getting some exposure to the sun each day, most people understandably think of exposure to the skin. Not only does your skin need to be exposed to the sun, but your eyes do as well. We don’t mean staring at the sun, or giving yourself a headache on bright days. However, your eyes do need access to sunlight. They need it at whatever level your eyes can currently handle. And, unless you spend a lot of time outside without sunglasses already, you should work towards increasing your eyes’ ability to handle more sunlight to give your body a multitude of health benefits.
Our need for sunlight is nothing new. Many major ancient civilizations including Egypt, Rome, and Greece made use of sunlight as solar therapy. Not only was the full spectrum of sunlight used for healing, but Heliopolis (the Greek city of the sun) was known for healing temples where the spectrum was broken down into the its different colors for specific medical problems. In the less sunny parts of England (and there are a lot of those), doctors would prescribe patients to go to another part of the country (or another country entirely) for a time of healing—away from the gloom and into the sunlight. More recently, conditions helped by sun therapy have included colitis, anemia, gout, cystitis, arteriosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, acne, herpes, lupus, sciatica, asthma and kidney problems. When treating tuberculosis, one doctor noted that the treatment failed if the patient was wearing UV-protecting sunglasses. They eyes were the key to good results!
Sunlight includes the UV part of the spectrum—yes, that part we are endlessly warned to avoid at all costs. UV is one of the most biologically active parts of the spectrum and is essential for both plants and animals. For more information on this see Dr. Jacob Liberman’s book, Light: Medicine of the Future. Back to where we were… When sunlight enters your eyes, it influences the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and pineal gland by neurochemical channels and thus has an effect on your entire endocrine system. (In some ways the effect of light entering our eyes is similar to the photosynthesis in plants). So, what does this mean for you on a daily basis? What will taking off your sunglasses and spending some time each day under natural sunlight do for you? Here’s a list…and more is being added to it all the time.
• Regulates physiological and emotional functioning
• Regulates hormones
• Increases sex hormones
• Increases your ability to adapt to stresses
• Provides relief from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
• Improves ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night after exposure to sun during the day
• Strengthens your body’s defenses against disease
• Lowers blood pressure
• Increases heart efficiency
• Reduces cholesterol
• Assists in weight loss
• Improves healing of psoriasis
• Provides relief from depression
So, if you don’t need sunglasses—don’t wear them. The only time you should wear them is if the sun is making you squint or causing a headache. Since very few of us were raised outdoors most of the day, our eyes are just not accustomed to sunlight. How can we improve our eyes’ ability to handle this life-giving force? And, when we do need to wear sunglasses, what type should we wear? Here are a few suggestions from David Getoff:
I. First, the following supplements are helpful:
A. Beta Carotene — sometimes listed as Vitamin A on your supplement—be sure to check the label.
B. Vitamin A — not the same as beta carotene. This is an animal molecule that comes from animal liver. If you don’t eat a lot of liver, supplements are available in health food stores—again, check the label. Dr. Price, in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration noted a dramatic correlation between Vitamin A intake and eye health.
C. Astaxanthin – an antioxidant supplement.
II. Wear a visor or other type of hat.
III. Try to walk from your house to your mail box (or from your car to the store) without your sunglasses. Sometimes wearing them is simply a habit and not a necessity.
IV. If you do need to wear sunglasses:
A.Wear them only when you absolutely need to:
1. On extremely bright days
2. When the sun causes you to squint
3. When the brightness gives you a headache
4. When you’re trekking through the brightly reflecting snow
B. Wear them on the top of your head and only bring them down when absolutely needed.
C. Select sunglasses that do NOT have UV protection.
D. Select grey lenses. Grey lenses distort colors less and expose your eyes to all the colors of the spectrum more evenly.
E. Avoid unusually colored lenses such as pink, blue, green. These can affect your emotional wellbeing.
For more information:
Light: Medicine of the Future by Jacob Liberman, OD, PhD
Exploring the Spectrum (DVD) by Dr. John Nash Ott
Attaining Optimal Health in the 21st Century (Class) by David Getoff through PPNF.