As we age, the realisation dawns that everything we read about eating healthy foods for the good of our bodies is actually true. When we are young we feel immortal, but as our bodies and our eyesight begin to deteriorate, we understand that we need to fuel and nourish ourselves to stave off the effects of ageing for as long as possible.
Age-related eye diseases, like cataracts and even macular degeneration will cause impaired vision in older adults, so by making some lifestyle changes now we can help avoid or possibly prevent certain eye issues later.
The incidences of type II diabetes are on the rise in Ireland, and with it the disease brings a hugely increased risk of vision difficulties. Adopting a healthy diet will help people avoid diabetes, and simple things like protecting eyes against strong sunlight; quitting smoking and getting regular check-ups will help you maximise your eye health. The food we eat impacts our overall health as well as our vision, and some simple changes can make all the difference.
Eat plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables for optimum eye health, as a diet that iss high in saturated fats and refined sugar will increase the risk of eye disease, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and age-related macular degeneration- all of these conditions have been shown to occur less frequently in people who eat diets rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and lutein.
Dark leafy green veg like kale, and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain a high level of antioxidants, which protect your eyes by reducing damage related to oxidizing agents (free radicals) that can cause age-related eye diseases.
The Vitamin C in citrus fruits, like lemon or grapefruit, helps keep eyes young and healthy by protecting some parts of the eye against damage caused by ultraviolet light.
Lutein, found in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, is one of the best known eye-protecting antioxidants. Sweet corn, peas, and broccoli also contain large amounts of lutein.
Vitamin A, vital for healthy vision, is found in orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots and squash. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant.
The best way to get the nutrition you need is from food, but some people find supplements are a good way to augment their diet; choosing ones that contain essential fatty acids and vitamin E can help maintain vision.
Eat whole grains and cereals- avoid refined white flour. Whole grains contain lots of fibre, which slows down the digestion and absorption of sugars and starches. Fibre will also make you feel full, which makes it easier to limit the amount of calories you consume. Experts suggest that at least half of your daily grains and cereals be 100 percent whole grains.
Healthy fats are the ones you need- the omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts and canola oil help to prevent dry eyes and possibly cataracts. Eat fish or seafood twice weekly, or take flax oil every day.
Remember that fat content and cooking methods are what make proteins healthy or unhealthy. Choose lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes and eggs for your proteins. Most meats and seafood also are excellent sources of zinc, and eggs are a good source of lutein.
High sodium intake may add to your risk of cataract formation so keep an eye on your salt consumption and stay below 2,000 mg of sodium each day.
Proper hydration is vital; drink lots of water or try 100% vegetable juices, fruit juices and non-caffeinated herbal teas. Proper hydration also may reduce irritation from dry eyes.
Many studies have shown that nutritional supplements can help prevent certain age-related eye diseases.
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) tested a dietary supplement combination of vitamin C, beta carotene (the precursor of vitamin A), vitamin E and zinc, and the effect of this combination on macular degeneration. Results showed that people at risk for the disease were less likely to develop advanced macular degeneration when they took this formulation of supplements.
Researchers found that daily multivitamins and B vitamin supplements, especially folic acid and vitamin B12, reduced the risk of cataract formation in study participants. Results also showed that taking omega-3 fatty acids daily reduced the risk of cataracts.
The large amounts of nutrients used in these studies can be difficult to obtain by diet alone, so you can add the following supplements to your diet for optimal eye health.
• Daily multivitamin
• 500 milligrams of vitamin C
• 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E
• 15 milligrams of beta carotene
• 80 milligrams of zinc
• 2 milligrams of copper
• B complex supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid
• 2500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids
If you are concerned about your vision, why not book a free consultation with Optilase and see if laser eye surgery can help. To book an appointment at the clinic nearest you, just call
+353 1 223 8821 or contact us using the green web form above right.