Many people don’t consider the health of their eyes when making decisions about nutrition and exercise. For the most part, if someone thinks they see well, they assume that their eyes are healthy. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
There are many eye diseases that can be brought about by poor nutrition and lack of exercise, which have no decrease in vision in the early stages. Only when irreversible damage has been done, do these conditions manifest themselves visually.
Diabetic eye disease is one of the leading causes of blindness. Due to increased blood sugar levels, damage can be done to the blood vessels throughout the body, especially the retina.
When these vessels become damaged, blood and fluid leak out into the retinal layers and cause swelling and destruction of the delicate nerves responsible for vision. No vision loss or blur is seen by patients in the early stages of this sight-threatening condition. Proper blood sugar control through diet, exercise, compliance with medications and regular doctor visits are essential to preventing diabetic eye disease.
Macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people over age 50. Oxidative damage and poor blood flow to the eye begin to destroy a layer of the retina called the retinal pigment epithelium.
As this layer becomes compromised, the overlying retinal structures begin to fail and vision is lost. There is no cure for AMD, but this devastating condition can be slowed and prevented with proper nutrition and blood flow to the eye and retinal layers.
Research has shown that incorporating certain nutrients in your diet each day can help prevent these conditions and save your vision. The American Optometric Association has given some recommendations of common nutrients that are especially good for your eyes:
• Leutein and Zeaxanthin are found in dark leafy green vegetables and in eggs. They reduce the risk of AMD and cataracts.
• Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables, and can slow the progression of AMD and cataracts.
•Vitamin E found in nuts, fortified cereals and sweet potatoes removes free radicals in the eye which can destroy healthy tissue.
• Omega 3 fatty acids are essential in proper visual development and retinal function, as well as preventing dry eye.
• Zinc helps bring vitamin A from the liver to the eye, where it is used to produce melanin. Melanin is a pigment found in the eye which protects it from harmful UV rays.
As you can see, proper nutrition and blood flow to the eyes is essential for keeping them healthy.
Whatever your resolutions might be for this new year, be sure to include something that helps you care for your body and protects the precious gift of sight.
If you have any questions about your eyes or vision, please contact your optometrist. You can also go to www.aoa.org for more information.
Dr. Daniel Pace
Dr. Adam Rudd
Family Vision Care of Bountiful
(801) 292 1408.