The eye is one of the most remarkable achievements of evolution, and has evolved up to 40 times in different parts of the animal kingdom. In humans, vision is the most important sense, and much of the brain is given over to the processing of visual information. Here at C Murray Optician, 13 Antrim Road, Belfast BT15 we encourage everyone to eat healthily to preserve their eyesight.
What should I eat to protect my eye sight?
Aim for a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and oily fish.
Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around. Zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions. Thus, it helps prevent retinal detachment and offer protection against “age- related macular degeneration disease” (AMD) in the elderly.
Numerous studies have observed that people with high dietary intakes or blood levels of antioxidants — particularly vitamins C and E — are at a significantly lower risk for cataracts. A diet full of foods rich in vitamin E, like sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts can protect your vision (and benefit the rest of your body, as well!)
Pink and red grapefruit
Eating antioxidant-rich foods like pink and red grapefruit, which are rich in both vitamin C and beta carotene, can help protect your eye health. One study followed a group of more than 4,000 people for eight years to see how diet affected the risk of macular degeneration, and found that people who ate a diet rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc had a 35 percent reduced risk of developing macular degeneration compared with people who ate an average diet.
Tea contains powerful antioxidants, and some research suggests that drinking relatively large amounts of it — the equivalent of about five cups daily — may help prevent or delay cataract development. Tea is an incredibly healthy drink all around — and unsweetened, it’s a terrific substitute for sweetened beverages like fizzy drinks and sugary coffee concoctions. Drinking green tea may improve the health of your eyes. Laboratory tests showed antioxidants found in the drink can be absorbed deep inside the eye, helping to protect it against disease.
Salmon is rich in B-vitamins and omega-3 fats, both of which can help protect eyes. Salmon is particularly rich in the B-vitamin niacin; several scientific studies have shown that people who eat a diet containing plenty of foods rich in riboflavin and niacin can slash the risk of cataracts by about half. Salmon’s healthy fats may also help stave off age-related macular degeneration by protecting light receptor cells in the eye from damage by sunlight and free radicals. One study found that people who ate just one weekly serving of fish, generally a good source of omega-3 fats, cut their risk of macular degeneration.
Shellfish like clams, crab, mussels, oysters and lobster are all rich in the mineral zinc. Zinc is important for the health of all body tissues, but it’s found in unusually high concentrations in tissues of the retina and is required for the functioning of enzymes that keep vision sharp. In people with macular degeneration, levels of zinc in the retina can be very low, so eating zinc-rich foods is a logical first step towards preventing and treating macular degeneration. In addition to shellfish, good sources of this eye-friendly nutrient include lean beef, pork tenderloin, peanut butter, skinless poultry, and pumpkin seeds.
A diet containing foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) can help reduce your risk for age-related macular degeneration. Swap refined carbohydrates for quinoa, brown rice, whole oats and whole-wheat breads and pasta. The vitamin E, zinc and niacin found in whole grains also help promote overall eye health.
Eating a healthy balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables may help to keep your eyes as healthy as they can be.