The Wisdom of the Eyes

Of course you’ve heard of wisdom teeth, but do you know about the wisdom in your eyes? Apparently philosophers in various cultures did because there are a lot of proverbs written about the eyes.

Let’s take a look and see what these wise sayings really mean.

“Onions, smoke, and women bring tears to your eyes.” – Danish Proverb

Certain things literally bring tears to our eyes, like onions. They are a great ingredient in many meals but, let’s be honest, cutting them is a nuisance. Our eyes burn, the tears fall, and you may wonder if it’s easier to just toss some onion powder in the food rather than torture your eyes.

There is a physical reason for the irritation onions cause. When they are sliced, onions produce a gaseous chemical known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. This wafts up in the air where it comes into contact with the moisture in your eyes. The ciliary nerve is triggered, you feel a burning sensation, and tears are produced.

Although knowing why you cry around onions is nice, it’s a better thing to know how to stop it. A couple tips are to refrigerate the onions prior to slicing them; this slows down the reaction rate of the chemical that is released. Another alternative is to run water over the onions since the syn-propanethial-S-oxide is water soluble and this will eliminate its presence.

“Eyes that see do not grow old.” – Nicaraguan Proverb

We all worry about growing old since it seems that certain body parts may not work as well with age. Usually around the age of 40, people notice that they cannot see clearly at close distances. This is a normal part of aging since the lenses in the eyes become less flexible. This makes it harder to focus on near objects. Other eye issues more common with age include glaucoma, cataracts, decreased peripheral vision, and trouble driving at night.

But there is an excellent way to keep your eyes as healthy as possible as you age. The answer is with regular vision exams. All of these eye conditions can be addressed; many times all you may need are prescription glasses. Getting old doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see well. It only means that your eyes need to be examined more frequently, especially if you are having any problems.

“Not all are asleep who have their eyes shut.”  Italian Proverb

No one should sleep with their eyes open unless they just watched a Stephen King movie. Your eyes need sleep just like your body does. Many people suffer from chronic eye fatigue which means your eyes may just feel tired all the time.

During sleep, the eyes are renewed through some basic ‘housekeeping’ processes. Old cells are sloughed off, making way for new cells. The tear ducts replenish themselves. All of these things add to the immunity of our eyes and keep them as healthy as possible. For optimal benefits, our eyes need at least seven hours of sleep to restore the nutrients they need.

Throughout time, across continents, and in every language, the eyes have been the subject of proverbs and much speculation. There has been an air of mystery associated with the eyes but also an air of certainty: the eyes need regular vision exams for optimal health.

That might not be a proverb but it sure makes sense.