It’s easy to take eye health for granted, but with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) effecting roughly 1 in every 10 people over the age of 65, it is important to help protect your eyes from an early age.
Here are some tips to help protect your eyes and to keep them healthy:
Protecting your eyes starts with the food you eat. Nutrients such as lutein, zinc, vitamin C & E, omega 3s and various phytochemicals such as carotenoids can help improve eye health and ward off age-related vision problems.
1- Foods high in carotenoids – any orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots (there is something in the old wives tale!) and sweet potatoes are high is beta carotene which is a form of vitamin A which keep the eyes healthy and plays an essential role in the adaption of the eye to light and night vision. Lycopene is another carotenoid which is found in tomatoes.
2- Foods high in anthocyanin – these include berries such as blueberries and cherries. These are high in antioxidants which help fight free radical damage in the eyes.
3- Foods high in vitamin C such as green vegetables, berries, citrus fruits and tomatoes. Vitamin C is present in high concentrations in the lens of the eye and is essential for maintaining the integrity of collagen structures.
4- Omega 3 foods include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and anchovies, as well as flaxseeds and chia seeds. These help relieve intra-ocular pressure and reduce inflammation.
5- Foods high in lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin – these include green leafy vegetables, squash, peas, brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus and lettuce. These phytochemicals help prevent retinal damage and oxidative damage.
Keeping hydrated is very important. When the eyes are hydrated it helps flush out any debris that could be damaging the eyes. I always recommend my clients consume 3 litres a day of hydrating liquids. This can include still water, coconut water and herbal teas. Avoid flavoured water as these contain artificial sweeteners. If you need some flavour, add fresh fruits to your water, or cold herbal/fruit teas.
Avoid certain foods and drinks that cause oxidative damage. These include:
- Trans fats and hydrogenated fats which you find in processed foods.
- Grilled/burnt foods
- Caffeine – one cup of coffee a day is ok, but if you’re consuming more than that each day, it can reduce blood flow to the eyes.
- Refined sugar – along with all the other effects refined sugar causes on the body, it also speeds up the ageing process and causes cellular oxidation.
Stop smoking! Smoking means you’re at a higher risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and optic nerve damage.
Supplements for eye health
Take nutritional supplements. A good fish oil (or vegetarian equivalent) of 1000mg EPA & DHA a day to reduce inflammation. Also an antioxidant complex containing vitamin C, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Astaxanthin, Lycopene and vitamin A. If you are on any medication, please consult your health care professional before taking any supplement.
Guest blog by EMMA STANLEY
Emma is a qualified naturopathic nutritional therapist, yoga teacher and personal trainer and uses her knowledge to help people return to optimal health. She’s also a competitive crossfitter, having competed in various competitions, including the British Championships. She is passionate about health and believes healthy eating is far from boring and enjoys creating recipes to prove it!