Carrots aren’t the healthiest foods for the eyes! It’s actually green leafy veggies! -Dr. Neda Gioia

185: Your Child’s Eyes Need Care Too! (with Dr. Neda Gioia)

When it comes to functional medicine or whole body health, we often realize that everything is connected – BUT when is the last time your eye doctor asked you about nutrition?

Dr. Neda Gioia joins me today to do just that, and truly opened my eyes (ha! Yes, pun intended!) to the interconnectivity of our eye health and our diets and lifestyle.

Did you know that nearsightedness is taking such a marked uptick in the last 1-2 decades that there’s a whole subspecialty of optometry where there wasn’t one before? We don’t know exactly WHY this is happening, but Dr. Gioia and I explore a few possibilities (and how to reverse and/or mitigate them for your families!).

Bottom line – you need this interview if:

  • your kids have never had a real eye exam (or if you don’t know the difference between an exam and a screening)
  • your kids have any sort of learning difficulty
  • your family isn’t a huge fan of greens (or if you still think carrots are the best eye food)
  • your kids (or adults in the fam) spend more than 20 minutes in a sitting on screens

I love how practical Dr. Gioia’s advice is, and I know you’ll love it too!

Can’t see the video? Watch Functional Eye Health here on YouTube!

No time for the video? Here are the notes!

Functional Eye Care for Kids

  • 0:17: We’ve never talked about this topic before on the Healthy Parenting Connector! I’m chatting today with Dr. Neda Gioia about eye health. 
  • 2:53: I’ve never heard of an eye doctor with a functional medical degree. Dr. Gioia shares her story with us.
  • 5:56: What is the difference between functional eye care and what you can get at any local eye doctor? Because Dr. Gioia is trained in multiple areas of health, she provides nutritional advice for whole body health. 

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Eye Exams Vs. Vision Screenings

  • 7:35: Do you know the difference between a screening and exam? Your child may get a screening at school or a pediatrician, but that’s not an exam. The vast majority of parents don’t know that it’s recommended that children have 3 eye exams before they enter grade school!

Eye exams are different than screenings – kids should get regular eye EXAMS. -Dr. Neda Gioia

  • 8:52: A vision screening checks whether a child can see or not, usually at a distance. In an exam things like how the eyes work together, close up vision and eye health are checked. 
  • 10:05: If a child is having any difficulty in school, have their vision checked!

If a child has any learning trouble in school, vision should be the first thing we look at! -Dr. Neda Gioia

Screen Time and Eye Health

  • 14:39: Let’s talk technology. Due to the prevalence of screens nearsightedness has increased and that increases your risk for other ocular diseases later in life. 

The earlier you start teaching your kids about nutritional value and density the better. -Dr. Neda Gioia

  • 17:23: We need to look at our lifestyle as a whole to mitigate these increased risks. We don’t spend as much time outside, we don’t eat homecooked meals at home and we’re constantly on the go. This isn’t healthy for any body system including ocular health. 

For every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second "blink break." -Dr. Neda Gioia

  • 20:35: Lutein and zeaxanthin neutralize blue light! These antioxidants are powerhouses when it comes to eye health. Here’s a bit about my experience with blue light glasses. 
  • 21:19: We talk about screen time for kids. Dr. Gioia says splitting screen time up and adding breaks is key for eye health. About 20 minutes at a time before a break is a good metric. Remind your kids to blink when they’re looking at screens. 

An infant’s eyes are so clear and fresh that light from screens is quite harmful! -Dr. Neda Gioia

Stay safe in the sun, with reef-safe sunscreens

Over the last decade+, I’ve personally tested over 120 natural mineral sunscreens, my standards are very high, and nothing I recommend is considered dangerous to coral reefs.

My top recommended tier with only around a dozen winners is where you really should be spending your time. These formulas are held to the highest standard with rigorous government testing.

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If you’re looking for the best reef-safe sunscreen, simply start there. Here’s a list of some of my ultimate favorites.

  • Kōkua Suncare with tons of antioxidants and my kids’ favorite scent and application
  • 3rd Rock Essentials rubs in well and reliably prevents burns in our tests (use the code KITCHENSTEW for 20% off!)
  • Raw Elements for so many reasons, including their tinted stick for adult faces (all styles, use KS10 for 10% off!)
  • Maelove, which I call the best “transition” sunscreen when moving away from chemical ‘screens
  • Others that make the top-recommended cut: Badger, ThinkBaby, Kabana

If you’re worried about the white cast on your skin from zinc oxide sunscreen, check out my video on how to apply mineral sunscreen correctly to minimize it.

Diet and Lifestyle for Healthy Eyes

  • 24:45: Some of the best foods for eye health are green leafy vegetables, bell peppers and egg yolks. 
  • 25:54: Dr. Gioia weighs in on blue light-blocking glasses. The best practice is to reduce blue light for about 3 hours before bedtime so you don’t disrupt melatonin production.
  • 30:36: We talked about greens being good for eye health, how can we make dark leafy greens more palatable for kids? Here’s a green smoothie recipe and a homemade green powder recipe.
  • 33:31: We end with a super practical step you can take action on today!

Resources We Mention for Eye Health

Dr. Neda GioiaDr. Neda Gioia, OD, CNS® FOWNS, is a licensed optometrist with over 15 years of clinical experience spanning 3 states. Dr. Gioia added a functional medicine certification to her Biology and Psychology degrees from Rutgers and her Optometry doctorate from SUNY. She achieving a fellowship in the Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society and is currently a board member. She furthered her education by completing her Certified Nutrition Specialist certification and completed modules through the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).

She is the founder of Integrative Vision, an optometry practice with a special emphasis on nutritional interventions and preventative modalities for eye health. Her approach to eye care involves treating the body and optimizing her patients’ foundation. With sight being such a high-level sense, Dr. Gioia believes one should maximize ways to improve quality of vision and reduce ocular disease risks. Her goal is to heal, educate, and, ultimately, empower her patients to achieve better health and a better life.

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to the Healthy Parenting Handbook Newsletter

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2. Try a Free Preview of My Cooking Class for Kids

Our members’ favorite lesson is always our 10-minute knife skills and safety class, teaching techniques with unique & memorable phrases from butter knives to chef’s knives (ages 2-teen). Take a peek here and try it out with your kids.

3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:

Enroll now in the Wall Street Journal’s #1 recommended online cooking class for kids (also rated 5 stars on Facebook). See what fits your family best HERE.

About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship®, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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