Obesity is a growing health epidemic in developed countries and research shows a direct correlation between obesity and eye diseases.
Some of these diseases affect the eyesight since the blood vessels in the eyes (small and thin) are easily blocked. Obesity has been linked with age-related cataract, glaucoma, age-related maculopathy, and diabetic retinopathy.
The Nurses’ Health Study, a large prospective study of female nurses in 1993, has found a higher rate of cataract surgery for women with BMI levels of 23 or greater compared to women with lower levels.
Eating a balanced diet with whole foods while reducing junk food, salt and fats, drinking enough water, moderate physical activity several times a week, getting enough sleep, reducing stress can help with weight management and obesity. Have an active lifestyle, keep an eye on your weight and wear protective glasses (eyeglasses and sunglasses) are important for your eyesight.
Certain essential nutrients such as vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc have been shown to protect the eyes.
Wearing glasses and/or contact lenses
According to The Vision Council, about 75% of all people use some sort of vision correction such as such as glasses or contact lenses. They are especially important when you use your eyes the most: while driving, reading, or using a computer.
Protecting your eyes from the sun damage is equally important, even during winter. So wear sunglasses especially during summer.
With annual eye exams, your doctor can identify early signs of eye disease and offer solutions to protect your eyesight.
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Best foods and supplements for eyesight
A balanced diet should provide all the nutrients required for optimum eye health.
You may probably know the saying “Eat your carrots, they’re good for your eyes.”
There are certain foods and vitamins most likely to offer eyesight protection:
Vitamin A is essential for maintaining the eyes’ photoreceptors— the light sensing cells.
Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common causes of blindness in the world.
Foods with high vitamin A intake include: fish, liver, dairy products, egg yolk, carrots, nuts and seeds, grapefruits, pumpkin, broccoli, kale, spinach, mango.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin function as a natural sunblock. Lutein protects your eyes from the sun’s UV rays and harmful blue light.
Lutein and zeaxanthin usually occur together in foods. Vegetables with greeny leaves, spinach, kale, pistachio, green peas, egg yolks, parsley, red grapes are good food choices. Egg yolks in particular are considered one of the best sources due to their high fat content.
Studies conducted by the National Eye Institute suggested that lutein and zeaxanthin supplements may reduce the need for cataract surgery by up to 32 percent in people who initially had low dietary levels of these carotenoids.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant associated with a lower risk of developing cataracts.
Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, kale, peppers.
The retina has a high concentration of fatty acids, so vitamin E intake is essential for optimal eye health.
Vitamin E is typically found in nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, greeny leaves vegetables.
Essential fatty acids are also important for healthy brain and eyesight.
Research has shown that increasing omega-3 intake may help to relieve symptoms of dry eye syndrome. The study concluded that taking daily supplements with essential fatty acids for three months resulted in a significant reduction of dry eye symptoms.
Fatty acids are typically found in oily fish, but Omega-3 supplements are a good option too.
Zinc plays an important role in eye function.
Natural dietary sources of zinc include oysters, meat, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts.
One study suggests that supplements may slow the early development of macular degeneration in older adults.
Interesting facts about the eyes
Did you know that…?
- The brain is the only organ in our bodies more complex than the eye.
- Over 80% of the brain’s processing is from our vision.
- There are NO pain nerves inside the eye, you could have serious eye conditions, like glaucoma and macular degeneration, and not know it until you have permanent eye damage.
- Even though the retina detects only 3 colors, red, blue and green, we can distinguish over 10 million different colors.
- When concentrating, most people only partially blink, causing dry spots and redness on the eyes.
- In a typical lifetime, you will see over 24 million images of the world around you.
- The iris (colored part of the eye) has 256 distinct features, whereas fingerprints only have 40.
- Contracting in less than 1/100th of a second, the eye is the fastest contracting muscle in the body.
- The ‘red eye’ seen in flash photography, is due to the retina being densely packed with blood vessels.