FEAST YOU REYES
We take a closer look at 5 foods we should be eating to help us look after our eyes...
“Because our eyes are made up of vulnerable neural tissue, they work at a high metabolic rate and are prone to free radical attack and oxidative damage,” says Ian Grierson, Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Liverpool. “They are at risk of more than their fair share of age- related diseases, such as age- related macular degeneration ( AMD), cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease – and, unfortunately, these age- related diseases can rob people of vision and quality of life in their retirement years when they should be enjoying life to the full.”
But a good diet can help. Here are five foods that are rich in some of the key vitamins and minerals needed for optimum eye health...
“Fish, such as fresh salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, herring, pilchards and brill, are all rich in omega- 3 fatty acids which are critical retinal and ocular antioxidants that help protect the eye toward off illness,” says Professor Grierson.
“We were once told fats were the bad guys– simple; but now we have to think in terms of good and bad fats – not quite so simple. Among the good ones are the omega- 3 fatty acids, particularly DHAs which are involved in visual function. They, and other omega- 3 fatty acids, protect the retina from oxidation damage produced by light, chemical reactions and inflammation.”
GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
“Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and cabbage contain plant carotenoids– and greens are particularly rich in one carotenoid called lutein,” says Professor Grierson.
“Lutein is a yellow plant dye that is not produced in the body so we can only get it by eating appropriate vegetables and fruit ( or through supplements).
“It is a vital part of the protective system in the retina particularly at the macula, whichis a s mall area about the size of a thumbnail responsible for central vision.”
“Carrots contain a bewildering array of phytochemicals ( in excess of 500) and important membersare lutein, zeaxanthin and beta- carotene for visual health,” says Professor Grierson.
“The last one, beta- carotene, is abundant in carrots and, when absorbed by the body, it is converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed by one type of retinal photoreceptor( therod) to function and this recept or give sour‘ evening and night vision’. Beta- carotene is also a powerful retinal antioxidant so it can help protect the retina from harm.”
“These nuts are packed with goodness and contain numerous minerals important to eye and body function including calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and eye- important zinc,” says Professor Grierson.
“Almonds also contain abundant vitamin Ewhich has been shown to be a crucial fatsoluble antioxidant for the eye because – along with omega- 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc – it helps to protect the retina from the incessant ravages of free radical attack.”
“Oranges are rich in minerals, such as potassium and calcium ( needed for body and eye health),” says Professor Grierson. “They are also a brilliant and relatively cheap source of vitamin C – for example, a single orange has over 12 times the vitamin Cof an apple!
“Vitamin C has many functions in the body, particularly tissue repair and maintenance. It is also them a jor water soluble antioxidant in the eye, helping to protect the retina and other ocular structures from the ravages of daily activity.”