We have all heard the saying ‘we are what we eat,’ but we may not think of the health of our eyes when we consider this. Everyone knows a diet high in fruit and vegetables is good for our general health, but have you considered what they can do for our eyes?
Our eyes, as part of our bodies, are also affected by diet and lifestyle. People with diets that are high in fat and sugar are more likely to develop eye problems, just as the body will be affected negatively. In the same way that blood vessels can become narrower on the way to the heart (heart attack) and brain (stroke), so the blood vessels in our eyes can also become blocked. This can lead to a permanent loss of vision, which cannot be treated. Keeping our blood pressure and cholesterol balanced is just as important to the eyes as it is to the rest of the body.
There are certain types of foods that are specifically beneficial to the health and optimal function of our eyes. These are foods that contain the anti-oxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin, anti–oxidants that play a role in slowing down the progression of two of the most common eye diseases that affect us as we get older: cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). Cataracts are less of a concern as they can be removed both easily and safely with a simple operation. Macular degeneration, however, is currently untreatable and leads to a slow and potentially dramatic loss of central vision. The macula is part of the retina at the back of our eyes and is responsible for the very central part of our vision. As macular degeneration progresses, tasks such as reading and recognising faces become increasingly difficult.