Eye Spy with My Little Eye

Filed under: HEALTH!

Do You Wear Your Sunglasses at Night??

Written by on July 2nd 2014

A frequent complaint Dr. LaBrosse hears, particularly in the summer, is sensitivity to bright light.  Most people will say bright sun causes them discomfort, particularly if their eyes are blue.  Sensitivity in other situations, such as ambient lighting in stores or your office, is not normal. 

Symptoms include excessive tearing of the eyes, pain around the eyes, and the desire to wear sunglasses indoors.  There could be many explanations for this, but a commonly overlooked reason is a deficiency of lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet.  Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in the pigment of your eye that helps capture stray light rays and prevents them from activating too many cells on your retina. 

These nutrients are found in high concentrations in green leafy vegetables, as well as yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables.   Kale has the highest concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin amongst the green leafy group, followed by collard greens and spinach.  Orange peppers contain high amounts of zeaxanthin in particular.

If you know you don’t eat these foods regularly, the first step is to start working them into the diet several times per week.  If you know that this just won’t fit in with your lifestyle or diet, supplementation may be necessary.  Most supplements you find over the counter do not contain enough lutein or zeaxanthin to treat a condition such as light sensitivity (photophobia).   If dietary changes aren’t doing the trick, it might be time for professional help…see your eye doctor (hint, hint)!

spicy kale

Here is a great recipe from food.com that incorporates both kale and peppers:

Spicy Kale with Sauteed Red Peppers

2 bunches kale

1/2 cup leek, chopped

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced (or extruded through garlic press)

1 1/2 large red bell peppers, cut into short strips

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


white pepper

  1. Wash kale. Pull greens away from the stalks, discarding stalks. Shred by hand into small pieces.
  2. Place kale in steamer basket, and steam until tender (approximately 10 minutes). Remove immediately from heat.
  3. Heat olive oil in heavy pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add onions and leeks. Saute until onions are translucent and leeks begin to brown. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, saute for 1-2 more minutes. Add bell pepper slices, and saute until tender (approximately 4-5 minutes). Remove from heat.
  4. Add kale to pan, and toss ingredients together thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or room temperature

Check out the local farmers’ markets for organic produce. Did you know that there are over 70 farmers markets in Chicago?? Here is a list of the Chicago markets. Our favs on the north side are: Lincoln Square, Glenwood & Logan Square. If you are short on time, join a local CSA for a box of goodies that you pick up once a week with a different assortment of veggies each week!  We like Montalbano Farms and Angelic Organics, but there are a ton in the Chicago area. Happy cooking!