As we know that carrots make us see in the dark but what about the role of kale, almonds, peppers, kiwi fruits and seafood in making our eyes healthier? Scientists have found that there are various nutrients which help to guard our eyesight, keeping it in good working order as we age.
Parts of the eye, like the retina and lens, can damage as we age. Because the eye comprises fatty substances, uses up oxygen and is exposed to light for most of the day. These three things can combine with our genetic profile to create the conditions for oxidative damage.
Luckily, a healthy diet contains many antioxidants, nutrients which counter oxidative damage in the body. These healthy nutrients balance out the negative effects of aging in the eye. They are found in many different foods, like colorful fruits and vegetables, tea, seafood, and nuts,
Researchers found that the antioxidants like lutein, and zeaxanthin are possibly the most protective for the macula. That is present at the bit back of the eye and controls detailed vision. It can be incredibly debilitating if you lose function in that.
Body weight can also affect the health of your eye. Excess weight often boosts swelling and blood pressure and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can be mainly harmful. Moreover, raised blood sugars are damaging to the tiny blood vessels which bring oxygen and nutrients to the eye.
Thus, to try to keep your weight within a healthy range, by eating wisely and lessening alcohol consumption. These things can help to protect your sight as well as support the heart and joints, and reduce your risk of certain tumors.
Findings of the latest research
US researchers ran a large clinical trial, called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study to find out which nutrients help to encourage eye health and prevent cataract and AMD.
This trial carefully followed the progress of about 3,600 participants with varying stages of AMD. These participants were given a high-quality dietary supplement, or a placebo, for some years.
The outcomes of the research showed that taking a high-dose dietary supplement reduced the advanced AMD risk by 25% – which is a noteworthy finding.
The nutrients included in the supplement were antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene, and the minerals copper and zinc. Later, lutein and zeaxanthin were added in this study instead of beta-carotene and performed equally well.
In another study, vitamin E from the supplements was found to lower the risk of developing cataracts in older age by 27%. While higher ingestion of omega-3 fatty acid was associated with a lower risk of AMD and dry eye disease.
These studies demonstrate that diet improves the chances of keeping your eyes in continuing health as you age. Moreover, a healthier lifestyle can also help stop early-stage problems, like AMD and dry eye, getting worse.
Foods to support sight
Interestingly, a diet beneficial for eye health is similar to what you would consume to benefit other parts of body. According to the researchers, if you are eating healthily for heart and mental health, you are possibly already looking after your eyes. Some tips proposed by the researchers for the health of the eyes are as follows;
Eat colorful fruits and vegetables containing the antioxidant nutrients which boost your eye health. These contain egg yolks, orange peppers, kale, broccoli, spinach, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, grapes, and orange juice.
Try to aim for at least 5 portions a day of fruits and vegetables, and a few eggs a week – these are no longer limited for individuals with high cholesterol!
Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for the health of your eye. Especially it helps to prevent dry eye which affects one in nine women aged over 40 years.
Aim to eat oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna once a week. You can also take a daily fish oil supplement. Whitefish and seafood also comprise zinc which helps to support your eyes.
In case you have a family history of AMD, lutein and zeaxanthin are worth taking supplements. The reason behind this is that you would need to eat around 10 cups of kale or broccoli to get enough of these nutrients as you are already at risk of AMD.
Having regular eye tests are about much more than glasses! Often, your optician is the first person to spot changes in eye health that could indicate a more serious condition, like type 2 diabetes.