It has been found that various eye nutrients help to protect our eyesight. Thus, keeping one of our vital senses in a good working position as we age.
According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, there are around 2 million people in the UK who are living with sight loss. Moreover, the major reasons for vision loss in old age include preventable conditions, like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, and diabetic retinopathy.
Why should diet affect your eyes?
Some parts of the eye, like the retina and lens, are susceptible to damage as we age. This happens because the eye contains some fatty substances, uses up lots of oxygen and is exposed to light for most of the day.
Thus, combine with our genetic profile, these three things, create the circumstances for oxidative damage. This is similar to rancidity of butter when left in the sun.
Luckily, a healthy diet comprises sufficient antioxidants, nutrients which respond to oxidative damage in the body. They are found in various foods, like colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, tea, and seafood. These nutrients balance out the negative aging effects in the eye.
According to the researchers, the antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, are the vital eye nutrients. Possibly, they are the most protective for the macula. That’s the bit at the back of your eye which controls complete vision. It can be extremely debilitating if you lose function in that.
Body weight can also affect the health of your eye. Excess weight like in case of obesity often increases inflammation. It also increases your blood pressure and risk of type 2 diabetes.
All these conditions put stress on the eye. Diabetes can be largely damaging since higher blood sugars are harmful to the tiny blood vessels. These vessels bring much-needed oxygen and nutrients to the eye.
So, keeping weight within a healthy range, by eating wisely and reducing alcohol consumption, can help to guard your sight as well as supporting the joints and heart. Moreover, it also reduces your risk of certain cancers.
Foods to support sight
Interestingly, a diet for the health of the eye can also benefit other parts of the body. Moreover, if you are consuming healthily for heart and mental health, you are perhaps already looking after your eyes.
Researchers state that it is worth thinking about eye health as early as the 30s or 40s. This is because that’s the time when early abnormal changes can take place in the macula.
Eat an adequate amount of colorful fruits and vegetables which comprise the antioxidant nutrients. These help to boost eye health. These eye nutrients contain squash, kale, spinach, egg yolks, courgette, orange peppers, blueberries, broccoli, kiwi fruit, grapes, and orange juice.
Aim for nearly five portions a day of vegetables and fruits, and some eggs a week – these are no longer limited for individuals with higher cholesterol!
The omega-3 fatty acid is very important for eye health, particularly helping to prevent dry eye which distresses 1 in 9 women aged over 40 years.
Aim to eat oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna once a week. Or, you can also take a daily fish oil supplement. Seafood and white fish also contain zinc which helps to support your eyes so try to include their portion every week too.
It has been found that high-dose dietary supplement reduced the risk of advanced AMD by 25%. The nutrients present in this supplement included antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, and the minerals copper and zinc. Later, lutein and zeaxanthin were also added instead of beta-carotene and did equally well.
In case you have a family history of AMD, it is worth taking a zeaxanthin and lutein supplement as an eye nutrient. This is because you would require eating about 10 cups of kale or broccoli to get these nutrients as you are already at risk of AMD.
Try to have regular eye tests – these are about more than just glasses! Your optician is often the first person to spot any change in your eye health which could specify a more serious state, like type 2 diabetes.