How is your diet harming your vision?
You are what you eat, and a healthy diet is just as important for your eyes as any other part of your body. Changing your lifestyle to include better nutrition can help delay or prevent certain eye conditions that could otherwise develop later in life.
Almost one third of the world’s population is overweight. Researchers have found that obesity contributes to an increased risk of diabetes. This in turn can cause damage to the retina and lead to Diabetic Retinopathy; an eye disease that can lead to total blindness. It affects up to 80 percent of patients who have had diabetes for 20 years or more.
High blood pressure can also be caused by a poor diet. This can have a negative impact on your vision, as it may damage the eyes’ blood vessels and lead to vision loss.
What foods are good for my eyes?
Beyond simply ‘eating less’, there are a number of ways you can adjust your diet to help provide nutrients that your eyes will benefit from. Foods that you should be including in your diet include:
- Fish – High levels of Omega-3 are found in oily fish. This helps to protect against dry eye, cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Leafy greens – Foods such as spinach and kale help to protect your retina and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Whole grains and cereals – The sugars and refined white flour commonly found in bread and popular cereals may increase your risk of age-related eye diseases. Whole grain breads or cereals contain high levels of fibre, which help slow down your body’s absorption of starch and sugar.
- Low sodium meals – A high intake of sodium (salt) has been linked to an increased risk of cataract formation. Aim to stay under 2000mg of salt each day, and choose fresh and frozen foods that require fewer preservatives.
What vitamins and minerals promote healthy vision?
There are a number of vitamins and minerals that have been shown to encourage healthy vision. The following should all be considered as part of a balanced diet, through food choices or supplements:
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A and beta-carotene is vital for good vision and helps protect your cornea.
- Vitamin C – Studies have found that Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, is linked with a reduced risk of cataracts.
- Vitamin D – One of the most common deficiencies in colder countries and during winter months is that of Vitamin D. This has been linked with an increased risk of macular degeneration.
- Vitamin E – Found in nuts, sweet potatoes and certain cereals, Vitamin E has been found to reduce the progression of AMD and cataract formation by playing a vital role in the immune system.
When taking vitamin or mineral supplements, you should always check the expiry dates to ensure they’re fresh. Pay attention to the recommended serving size to make sure you aren’t taking too little or an excessive amount.
Though they may be a little more expensive, supplements in capsule form are often absorbed by the body better than hard tablets. You should never rely entirely on supplements for your daily vitamin and mineral intake, so try to reach your daily values through food consumption wherever possible.