We don’t have to look very far to find someone telling us what to eat and what not to eat – magazines, newspapers, TV and websites are all used to get the message across. So is it perhaps surprising that lots of people don’t realise that what they eat can affect their eye-sight? Our eyes can suffer when the food on our plates doesn’t contain certain key ingredients.
A Quick Science Lesson
The macula is a very small (but also very important) part of the retina at the back of your eye – about the size of a grain of rice! Light focused onto it by the lens is used by special cells to help to create clear colour vision.
Like all cells, these need nutrients to keep them healthy – that’s where your food comes into it! Two important nutrients are called lutein and zeaxanthin. These helpfully do two things:
Work to preserve cells
Filter out potentially harmful blue light
This helps to protect against eye diseases such as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD can affect anyone, but over 60’s are particularly at risk – in the UK over 600,000 people are affected.
So what shall I eat?
When you next find yourself using your fingers to count off your daily intake of fruit and veg, check if any of these have found their way into your favourite dishes.
Lutein sources include yellow peppers, mango, bilberries and green leafy vegetables especially kale and spinach
Zeaxanthin sources include orange sweet peppers, broccoli, corn, lettuce, tangerines, oranges and eggs
Other helpful ingredients are oily fish, nuts, carrots & wholegrain cereals.
If you're in need of suggestions, why not try out one of these recipes:
There is much much more that could be said! Ask your optician the next time you’re in for your regular eye health check.