Have you ever wondered how our diet plays a role in our eye health? Or were you ever concerned that you may get vision problems just because you have a family history of them? Well, research shows that poor vision and health do not solely depend on family history and genetics; an individual's diet can have a big impact on their eye health. In fact, the 2001 Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that some nutrients and vitamins potentially had the ability to reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 25%.
A diet that includes foods containing nutrients can help ensure that individuals are getting what they need in order for them to achieve healthy vision. For example, the risk of AMD and cataracts, two of many common vision problems, can be lowered by a balanced diet.
Antioxidants, which are found in common foods, protect our eye tissues from free-floating radicals. Radicals are formed when tissue is exposed to UV radiation, such as through sunlight and air pollutants. Since the retina is exposed to large amounts of light, it is susceptible to damage done by these radicals. Antioxidants reduce the high level of oxidative stress caused by the radicals. As a result, it is important to include antioxidants in one’s diet. Lutein and zeaxanthin are both strong antioxidants commonly found in spinach and kale and are known to reduce the risk of both AMD and cataracts. After consumption, they enter the retina and the lens, and prevent degenerative changes from occurring and prevent the formation of free radicals. Vitamin C also has the potential to prevent cataracts. It is found in various fruits and vegetables, such as grapefruits, strawberries, and green peppers. Vitamin E is another strong antioxidant found in nuts and sweet potatoes.
Moreover, essential fatty acids are important for our diet. They are particularly important because they are not synthesized in our bodies. Omega 3-fatty acids are important for retinal function and vision development, as they help prevent AMD. These fats can be found in foods such as salmon and tuna. Furthermore, beta carotene, which is found in yellow and orange veggies and fruits, is very important to vision. The deficiency of these fatty acids can lead to night blindness.
Although healthy diets can help improve one's eye health, unhealthy diets can open up new doors to vision problems. Research shows that a high-fat diet of unhealthy foods may possibly increase the risk of AMD. Moreover, another study shows that high-sodium diets have a correlation to an increased risk of cataracts.
As a result, it is important for one to pay particular attention to their diets and what they’re consuming, as it can impact their eye health.