Oranges are good for eyesight
AS CHILDREN we were told that the best way to protect our eyesight was to crunch on a carrot. Now scientists say that if we want our vision to stay sharp throughout life we should be eating oranges instead.
Just one a day significantly cuts the risk of developing macular degeneration, a study shows. The incurable condition is the most common cause of sight loss in the elderly.
Researchers interviewed more than 2,000 over-50s and followed them over a 15-year period. Those who ate at least one orange a day reduced their risk of developing macular degeneration 15 years later by over 60%. The Australian researchers believe the effect is caused by an antioxidant called flavonoids.
Oranges were not the only fruit the scientists studied. The team also looked at apples and common drinks such as tea and red wine. But none of these appeared to prevent macular degeneration.
Study author Bamini Gopinath, from the University of Sydney, said: ‘Essentially, we found that people who eat at least one serving of orange every day have a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration compared with people who never eat oranges. Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits.’
The Westmead Institute for Medical Research team embarked on their study in the hope of understanding the causes of eye diseases, and the genetic and environmental conditions that may threaten vision.
Previous studies focused on the effect that common nutrients such as vitamins C, E and A have on the eyes. But Professor Gopinath’s study took a new approach. She said: ‘Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration.
‘Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they have important anti-inflammatory benefits for the immune system.’
She added that, apart from oranges, ‘the data did not show a relationship between other food sources protecting the eyes against the disease’.