If you notice that your eye health is changing, consult an optometrist. Correcting vision issues with glasses or contact lenses may be all that is required. More serious conditions, however, can endanger our vision as we age. With a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can improve your chances of maintaining good vision.
Time for a test
One in every ten Australians over the age of 55 suffers from vision impairment. Approximately half of these people have uncorrected vision, which can be improved by wearing the proper prescription glasses. Other, more serious health conditions, such as diabetes, can also cause vision loss, so regular eye testing is essential for early detection.
Cataracts are the ‘clouding’ of the eye’s lens.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness, causing damage to a portion of the retina.
Diabetes causes blood vessel damage, resulting in retinopathy. The condition affects up to 80% of people who have had diabetes for 15 years or more.
A healthy diet and an active lifestyle can lower the risk of these conditions.
Serve yourself correctly.
Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits lowers your risk of developing eye disease. Each day, aim for at least five servings of vegetables (five handfuls) and two servings of fruit (two average-sized pieces).
Colors that are alive
Colorful vegetables and fruits, particularly the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, contain important phytochemical antioxidants that protect the eyes (see Eating for healthy eyes). Vegetables and fruits with dark green or golden hues are high in antioxidants. To absorb these properly, you need healthy fats in your diet, so avoid fat-free diets and consume healthy oils in moderation.
The best essential oils
Fish contains polyunsaturated oils that are beneficial, so eat fish at least twice a week, preferably oily varieties like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and herring. Nuts also have unsaturated fats that are good for you and nutrients that are good for you. Snack on unsalted nuts – a handful is plenty – or toss them into stir-fries and salads.
People with eye disease have lower levels of vitamins C and E, as well as beta-carotene in their diet. Some research suggests that supplementing with high levels of these nutrients, as well as zinc, can help prevent degeneration from worsening. According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), eating these nutrients can help prevent many cases of AMD. There are always some risks associated with taking nutritional supplements, so consult your doctor before you begin. Getting vitamins and antioxidants naturally from a healthy and balanced diet poses no risk.
- Tobacco use is the most dangerous to one’s vision.
- Tobacco users are four times more likely to develop macular degeneration.
Good nutrition is essential for both eye health and overall health. A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish contains essential nutrients that promote healthy eye function.
Carrots are the most well-known food for improving vision, but eating your way to good eyesight isn’t just about beta-carotene.
To help you eat for better eye health, here is a list of antioxidants, their properties, and the foods that contain them.
Eye-friendly nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc have been linked to a lower risk of certain eye infection conditions, according to research.
|Vitamin E||Seeds, fruit, and seed oils||Vitamin E is important for the retina, the layer of tissue inside the eye that collects light and enables you to see.|
|Vitamin C||Fresh fruit and vegetables||Long-term consumption of vitamin C as part of a healthy diet has been shown to contribute to cataract prevention.|
|Zinc||Seafood, meat, nuts, and beans||In the eye, high doses of zinc, in combination with other antioxidants, have been found to significantly reduce the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration (MD). While not a cure or a means of repairing damage from MD, zinc may work to slow its progression.|
|Lutein and zeaxanthin||Corn, spinach, cabbage, oranges, celery, and red peppers||These antioxidants play crucial roles in maintaining the health of the eyes, helping to filter out harmful blue light and reduce hazardous free radicals in the macula. They may help in the prevention of cataracts.|
|Selenium||Fish, brazil nuts, and bread||This trace mineral is important for the proper function of the retina.|
|Coenzyme Q10||Fish, meat, grains, and peanuts||This antioxidant has been found to stimulate the immune system and may be beneficial for people with diabetes.|
|Glutathione||Asparagus, avocado, walnuts, garlic, eggs, onion, and watermelon||Animal studies have shown glutathione to be an effective anti-cataract agent and it may help to reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients.|
|Lipoic acid||Yeast, red meat, potatoes, and spinach||Promising animal studies have shown that it may help to reduce the incidence of cataracts.|
The above list is excellent for a well-balanced diet. The added benefits to eye health are a plus.
The absolute best way to ensure your eye health is to have regular eye examinations with your optometrist.