Saturday 26 September 2015


The week, which has been established to communicate the importance of good eye health under the banner, ‘Vision Matters’, encourages people from every walk of life to take better care of their eyes and have regular sight tests. Regular sight tests are essential for maintaining healthy eyes but there are other things you can do to look after your eyes.


Studies show that what we eat can affect our vision. Antioxidants can help to prevent retinal damage. One anti-oxidant which is hugely beneficial is lutein.
Foods recommended for eye health include:
  • Broad leaf greens such as kale and spinach
  • Brightly coloured fruit and veg such as corn, carrots, orange sweet peppers and oranges
  • Oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel
  • Broccoli

Exercise and eyesight

Lack of exercise contributes significantly to several eye conditions, particularly amongst people aged 60 and over. Exercise may reduce the risk of sight loss from narrowing or hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes.


Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to serious health conditions which can have a detrimental effect on your eye health.


After ageing, smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing macular degeneration.
Smoking also increases your risk of developing cataract

The sun

Protecting your eyes from the sun is very important and should not be underestimated. Under no circumstances should you ever look at the sun directly. Your sunglasses should have the CE mark on them which ensures that they are giving you the right level of ultraviolet protection

Nutrition and The Eye
A poor diet can put your sight at risk. Yet, awareness of the link between diet and good eye health is low – a recent survey found sixty per cent of people living in the UK had no idea that what they eat can affect the health of their eyes. (1)

Vitamins, minerals and carotenoids found in many fruits, vegetables and other wholesome foods can help protect your sight and keep your eyes healthy.

Here are just some of the foods that are rich in eye-friendly nutrients...

Cold water fish like cod, sardines and tuna are excellent sources of DHA, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

These provide structural support to cell membranes and may be beneficial for dry eyes, and the maintenance of general eye health.

Research has shown that eating just one portion of fish a week may reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the UK’s leading cause of blindness – by up to 40%. (2)

Blueberries and grapes contain anthocyanins, which may help improve night vision.

Green leafy vegetables spinach or kale, for examples, are rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxathin.

Lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin form a yellow pigment that helps protect the macula – a tiny yellow spot in your retina – from excessive sun damage by acting as a natural sunblock.

Whole grains and avocados are rich in zinc and Vitamin B. Deficiency in complex B Vitamins may increase your risk of cataracts and retinopathy.

Garlic, onions, shallots and capers are rich in sulfur, which is necessary for the production of glutathione, an important antioxidant required to help maintain healthy sight.

Eggs are rich in cysteine, sulfur, lecithin, amino acids and lutein. Sulfur may also help protect the lens of the eye from cataracts.

Papaya is a good source of beta carotene which can help to prevent ‘free radical’ damage inside the eye.

Soy contains essential fatty acids, phytoestrogens,

Vitamin E and natural anti- inflammatory agents. Vitamin E is important for the maintenance of good eye health.

Unfortunately today’s busy lifestyles mean many people miss out on essential nutrients provided by a healthy diet so taking supplements may be really beneficial.

(Always consult your Optometrist or GP before taking supplements.)

Recommended Daily Amounts for some key eye- friendly nutrients (3)
Vitamin A – 0.7mg a day for men , 0.6mg a day for women
Vitamin B6 – 1.4 mg for men and 1.2 mg for women
Vitamin C – 40mg a day for all adults
Vitamin E – 4mg a day for men, 3mg a day for women
Zinc – 5.5-9.5mg for men and 4-7mg for women

1. Eyecare Trust Healthy Eyes, Report
2. Dietary Fatty Acids and the 5-Year Incidence of Age-related Maculopathy, Brian Chua et al.
3. NHS Choices. RDAs for healthy adults.

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