It’s well-known that having a balanced diet and active lifestyle is great for your general health. But did you know it can also help protect your eyesight?
Research shows that a diet low in fat and rich in fruit, vegetables and oily fish provides a wealth of vitamins, pigments and omega 3s, all of which are good for your eye health.
Vitamins have powerful anti-oxidant properties that help protect your eyes from conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. Look for vitamins C and E in particular. These are found in many different fruits and vegetables – including oranges, kiwis, green leafy vegetables and tomatoes. You'll also find them in nuts, seeds and eggs.
Certain carotenoid pigments - called lutein and zeaxanthin - have also been shown to reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration. Like vitamins, these pigments are strong antioxidants that mop up potentially damaging free radicals. They also absorb ultraviolet light which helps protect the delicate cells of the macula at the back of your eyes. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, cabbage, lettuce, spinach and broccoli, are particularly rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Other good sources include peas, sweetcorn, celery and onions.
There are a wide variety of nutritional supplements on the market targeted at eye health. However, there is some debate about their potential benefits. Most specialists agree that if you eat a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, there is probably no need to use supplements. However, they can be a useful top-up if there is a shortfall in your diet or you already have macular degeneration.
Omega 3 oils
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that has been shown to ease the irritating symptoms of dry eyes. Foods high in omega 3 include oily fish and fresh seeds. If you aren’t keen on the taste of fish, fish-oil capsules and omega 3 supplements are a good alternative.
Recent studies show that having an active lifestyle can also reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. Exercise increases blood-flow to the tissues inside your eyes, which helps eliminate toxins and prevent cell damage.
So, to summarize: keep active, eat your “five a day” and include plenty of “greens” and oily fish in your diet. It will not only improve your general health - it will help protect your eyesight too.