Stave off cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration with the right diet
Follow these diet tips to improve your eye health.
Everyone knows eating carrots helps you see in the dark (it really does – a vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness), but did you know there’s more to healthy eyeballs than orange vegetables?
New research reveals 60% of people are unaware that what we consume has an impact on our eye health, with another 20% believing that changing your diet won’t affect your eyes – which isn’t the case.
In fact, the results showed that 95% of Brits could be at risk of a deficiency in one or more key nutrients, while three-quarters had never even heard of the likes of Lutein or Zeaxanthin – nutrients vital for your vision.
The survey, conducted by Thea Pharmaceuticals, also asked optometrists about the state of the nation’s ocular fitness, with more than half of eye docs (52%) saying they fear that processed and convenience foods will contribute to worsening eye health over the next decade.
Conditions to watch out for
Due to our ageing population, the prevalence of degenerative conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is increasing – all of which can lead to irreversible damage and loss of vision.
“For several of these conditions there are no major symptoms to begin with. The patient may not know they are suffering until the deterioration has started – and there are far fewer options for treatment,” says Christine Purslow, Professor of Optometry and medical director at Thea Pharmaceuticals, who conducted the research.
Healthy eye food
“There is clearly still a lot that can and needs to be done to help educate the public on the effects of what we eat on our long-term eye health – both good and bad.”
So what should we be doing to prevent sight problems in future? It’s essential, experts say, to have a balanced and varied diet that covers a quartet of key food groups. Follow our four-step guide to ensure you’re eating enough eye-optimising nutrients…
Vitamins, minerals and trace elements
Why: Vitamins C and E, zinc, copper and selenium protect your cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
Where to find them: Vitamin C is highly concentrated in blackcurrants, oranges, peppers, strawberries and broccoli.
Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and fortified breakfast cereals.
Zinc, copper and selenium sources include shellfish (in particular oysters), dairy products, Brazil nuts, eggs and wheat germ.
Omega-3 and essential fatty acids
Why: These ‘good fats’ help maintain healthy vision, brain function and normal blood pressure.
Where to find them: Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, plus shellfish such as mussels, oysters, squid and crab. Aim for two portions a week.
Why: Emerging research shows that this substance, which is produced by plants in response to bacteria, also protects against oxidative damage to cells.
Where to find it: Small fruits (including grapes, blueberries and cranberries), peanuts and wine – but don’t go overboard. One glass a day is sufficient.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Why: These substances enrich macular pigment in the eye, protecting against the harmful affects of light exposure.
Where to find them: Green vegetables, in particular kale, spinach, lettuce, leek and broccoli, plus red peppers.