Diet potentially can have an impact on eye health and careful considerations are always useful. Maintaining a healthy diet, will have considerable benefits for the body in general and indeed the eyes. Of course, the benefits of eating healthily are best observed when good habits are adopted earlier in life: although change should be encouraged at any point!
Cooked kale and carrots
These two vegetables include a plethora of nutrients including lutein and zeaxanthin. The benefits of these for macula protection were described in the AREDS studies. The retina has nine layers, with the photoreceptor layer requiring vitamin A to function optimally. The beta-carotene precursor of vitamin A can be found in carrots. Hence, this potential lovely stir-fry can multiple advantages!
Red peppers are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids. They include vitamins A, C and E, which all promote good eye health. The debate of cooking versus eating vegetables raw is always a difficult area: for example, cooked red peppers release more carotenoid pigments, conversely more vitamin C is retained when eaten raw.
Fruit for eye health
Oranges are plentiful of vitamin C beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids are oranges. Caution should be exerted due to the high sugar content in most fruits, which potentially can be detrimental in patients with diabetes.
Omega-3 fatty acids have benefits in treating dry eye syndrome, so called evaporative dry eye. The change of the tear film calibre will aid with foreign body sensation and itchy sensation. It is sensible wherever possible to eat two or three portions of oily fish weekly. For those non-pescatarians, alternatives such as chia seeds, almonds, flax seeds and leafy greens are available.
Where-ever possible, stopping smoking is a sensible suggestion. There are well recognised risks systemically with smoking, including for eye health whereby there is a strong association with macula pathology. Exposure to ultraviolet light can potentiate cataract formation or direct damage to other structures of the eye. Hence, sunglasses are not only protective but also help one look cool! Finally, in this virtual age and our ever increasing reliance on computers, please try to take breaks regularly and remember to blink! The correct prescription in your spectacles is vital to avoid symptoms of ‘strain’ and regular assessments with optometrists in the community is imperative.
This blog is contributed by Gurjeet Jutley.