Proper nutrition allows us to keep our eyes in good condition as long as possible in order to enjoy the world in its colors and shapes.
The question is asked quite correctly: “Can a diet avoid…” Even if you enjoy a perfect vision, it doesn’t mean you will not have problems in your old age.
About 30% of the people who have reached the age of 65 suffer from some kind of eye disease. The main cause of vision deterioration is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as doctors call it. The macula is a part of the retina at the back of the eyeball, through which the visual information is transmitted to the brain. According to the statistics, about 30% of the people over the age of 75 suffer from AMD, but factors such as intensive exposure to sunlight, smoking, alcoholism and even overweight may significantly raise the possibility of eyesight deterioration. Studies in the recent years show that the consumption of large amounts of fat and neglecting the vegetables worsen the problems concerning retinal degradation.
Healthy nutrition help in the proper functioning of the circulatory system and as eyes are supplied with numerous microscopic blood vessels – every food, that is not good for the heart and the blood vessels, damages the eyes as well.
The main nutrients for better eye health are:
1. Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is extremely important for good vision. Its precursor is beta-carotene – the pigment of orange and red fruits and vegetables – carrots, apricots, tomatoes, goji berry. Retinol – the product of carotene’s metabolism, helps the eyes in adapting to see in lack of enough light. A salad of tomatoes or several carrots daily is enough to obtain the necessary amount of vitamin A. However, do not overdo the retinol in the form of supplements, because in large amounts it is harmful for the liver.
2. Antioxidants – with their help, the organism deals with free radicals, products of the oxidative stress, for which it is proven to be a cause of many diseases, including cancer. A lot of the eye diseases that occur in the elderly, such as cataract and glaucoma, are caused precisely by the high levels of free radicals in the organism. If the nutritional regimen is rich in antioxidants – vitamin E and C, zinc, copper, selenium, the risk of development of these diseases is reduced by 30%.
3. Lutein and zeaxanthin – carotenoids found in many leafy vegetables, as well as in corn. These substances reduce the risk of cataract formation and macular degeneration. Lutein-rich foods are carrots, corn, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, cauliflower, patience dock, red peppers, dill, parsley, potatoes, blue and purple fruits. A study from Harvard founds that in women eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, the risk of cataract development is reduced with 22%. The interesting thing is that in men it is reduced with 19%.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids – they reduce the probability of eye problems with age by 50%. A study in Australia investigates 2454 volunteers who consume at least one or two portions of walnuts per week. After ten years, the researchers found that for the participants who had regularly consumed nuts, the risk of development of macular degeneration was reduced with 35.
Rayna Stoyanova, MD