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Protecting Your Eyesight with Diet

Do you find yourself squinting and rubbing your eyes while reading magazines and small print on your laptop screen or some mobile device? Do you often experience blurred vision, especially in the evening? Though it is all normal at certain age, there is a lot you can do for preserving good eyesight.

When it comes to preventing future vision loss, proper nutrition seems to be one of the key factors for your eye health. Numerous studies demonstrate that foods abundant in antioxidants can help you slow progression of eye-related problems, especially glaucoma (which is one of the leading causes of blindness in the western world), or even improve them. Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure inside the eye damaging the optic nerve, which results in developing blind spots in your peripheral vision.

Antioxidants and Glaucoma

Antioxidants are natural substances present in most fruits and vegetables. They are considered to be beneficial for fighting disease and protecting our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Many experts now believe that these natural compounds may be helpful in slowing the ageing process of the eye. Researchers have conducted numerous experiments with test animals and have observed a reduction in vision loss with the use of certain antioxidants.

The most tested dietary antioxidants that have been proven beneficial for eye health include vitamins C (L-ascorbic acid) and E (alpha-tocopherol), alpha-lipoic acid and zinc. Researchers believe that antioxidants obtained naturally from eating balanced diet that contains elements of all the food categories may be more effective than those gained from taking vitamin supplements.

Rich sources of vitamin C include not only tomatoes and citrus fruits, such as oranges, but also a number of other fruits and vegetables like kiwi, strawberries, papaya, pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, peas, bell peppers and chilli peppers.

Vitamin E can be found in wheat germ oil and other vegetable oils, tofu, nuts, especially almonds, avocados, sunflower seeds, fish and shellfish, pumpkins and broccoli. Follow this link for more information on vitamins and their roles in our bodies.

The best sources of alpha-lipoic acid include spinach, broccoli, yeast, potatoes and organ meats, such as liver or kidney. Our bodies need alpha-lipoic acid to break down carbohydrates in order to make energy for the body’s organs and to restore vitamin levels, such as those of vitamins C and E.

Zinc is yet another essential nutrient and a powerful antioxidant, which has been shown to help protect your eyes from ravages of oxidative stress. The richest sources of zinc include seafood, meat, chicken, beans, wheat germ, seeds and nuts, spinach, cocoa and mushrooms.

Further research is needed to confirm the link between antioxidants and vision. So far these tests have only been conducted on laboratory animals, such as mice and rats. Yet, we need to see whether the same results can be achieved in humans. Some scientists are concerned that the amount of vitamin E used in the studies in question may be too high for human consumption. The dosage of vitamin E was based on the body weight of the laboratory animal. However, if the same ratio was used in humans, it would greatly exceed the recommended safe limits for vitamin E consumption.

Carotenoids vs Macular Degeneration and Cataracts

The results of several research studies suggest that naturally occurring carotenoids, such as lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin, may also help to slow the progression of certain eye disorders, specifically the age-related macular degeneration and they may also help to improve visual performance in patients with macular degeneration and cataracts. Macular degeneration causes a loss of central vision and it is one of the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness among people over 50 while cataract is a progressive clouding of the eye lens, making it difficult to see clearly with more than half of Americans over 65 years of age suffering from this condition.

The best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and broccoli, maze, turnip, peppers, green peas, zucchini, egg yolks, kiwi, grapes and orange juice whereas astaxanthin can be best found in yeast, seawater fish and crustaceans, such as lobster, crabs and shrimp. These aforementioned research findings reinforce the need to eat a well-balanced diet that includes all the necessary food categories to ensure proper nutrition for your eyes.

Where to Get More Information: VisionAware.org