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Nutrition and Your Eye

World Sight Day is on Thursday 14 October 2021. This year’s theme is #LoveYourEyes. A recent USDA survey revealed that most adult men and women are deficient in at least one nutrient that is important to eye health.

Good nutrition and antioxidants have a positive effect on eye health. Studies have suggested that six nutrients – the antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin Cvitamin E, and zinc – are associated with maintaining eye health. These vitamins can be found in many different sources of fruit and vegetables such as oranges, kiwis, grapefruit, dried apricots, tomatoes, peppers, raw carrots, green leafy vegetables including kale and spinach, green peas, green beans, and Brussel sprouts. They can also be found in nuts, seeds, dairy products, and eggs. These are only a few of the food types in which antioxidant vitamins can be found.  Lutein and Zeaxanthin can be found naturally in vegetables and fruit. For example, Lutein can be found in yellow peppers, mango, bilberries, and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, chard, and broccoli. Zeaxanthin can be found in orange sweet peppers, broccoli, corn, lettuce (not iceberg), spinach, tangerines, oranges, and eggs. Many of these overlap with food types in which vitamins A, E, and C are present.

Why nutrients are essential?

Red, blue, green, yellow, and ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths penetrate the transparent lens. But UV light appears to be particularly damaging to the lens, and blue light appears to damage the retina-a complex, the sensory membrane that lines the eye and receives the images formed by the lens. Normal byproducts of metabolism, called oxygen free radicals, also cause damage. If not neutralized by an antioxidant, over time such oxidation damages the lipids, proteins, and other components of the lens. The result is a clouding of the lens in a gradual slide from transparent to opaque. These opacities are called cataracts.

Antioxidants are compounds in foods that help maintain healthy cells and tissues in the eye and other organs. Inside the lens are high levels of vitamins C and E as well as some lutein and zeaxanthin. The latter two fall within a class of phytochemicals called carotenoids, and they are concentrated in the retina.

Another study has shown that women with the highest intakes of vitamins C and Eriboflavinfolatebeta carotenelutein, and zeaxanthin had a lower prevalence of nuclear opacity than did those with the lowest intakes of those nutrients. Moreover, those who used vitamin C supplements for 10 or more years were 64 percent less likely to have nuclear opacity than those who never used vitamin C supplements.

Another recently completed study explored the relationship between body mass indexwaist circumferencediabetes, and the presence of age-related cataracts in women. The study supports other findings that diabetes is a strong risk factor for PSC opacities and that abdominal fat and obesity may also be associated with PSC. Several variables complicate a comprehensive evaluation of the existing evidence linking nutrition and age-related vision loss.

Recommended Daily Allowances for healthy eyes:

Beta Carotene 5,000 IU
Vitamin E  400 IU
Vitamin C1000 mg
Zinc45 mg
Selenium50 mcg
Copper 2 mg
Manganese3.5 mg
Lutein 2.5 mg

In order to prevent eye diseases, follow the following instructions:

  1. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. An essential part of eye care is eating the right foods that contain the right vitamins to help keep the eyes health.
  2. Make time for regular physical activity.
  3. Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
  4. Take a general multivitamin.
  5. Wear protective sunglasses
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