It’s a fact that humans need vitamins to obtain and maintain clear eyesight and stay averse of many ocular diseases. But, many people today fail to understand the same. Daily, in the clinic I am confronted every day at least by one humbling father or their puzzled sons asking ‘Doctor can Age-Related Macular Degeneration be cured with medicines’ and to that I am unable to make an eye contact and usually end up saying ‘Yes Sir one day there will be’ giving false hope to allay their anxious minds. But the fact remains that with ageing we do suffer from many eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration (to name the prominent ones).
For many months in a row at the end of the every day, I keep asking myself ‘Can we protect our eyes and preserve our eyesight against such Age-related eye diseases’. Being a doctor books have been my best companion for many years. My curious mind found two landmark clinical studies, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS 2, providing scientific evidence that a combination of specific nutrients in specific amounts reduces the risk of developing advanced AMD in patients who had already-existing macular degeneration (AMD).
As we all know when it comes to nutrition, it is best to get your nutrients from foods. We have many wholesome foods available to us. (It is all about making healthy choices).
Gulping voluminous medical books and recently published literature in medical journals I shortlisted ten healthy foods providing essential ‘eyetamins’.
Tomatoes are packed with carotenoids, including lycopene, which helps give tomatoes their vibrant red colour. Research shows that the lycopene present in ocular tissues helps prevent light-induced damage to the retina and other areas of the eye and tomatoes are full of them. In addition to that, tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin C, another vision protector.
2: Spinach and other Leafy Greens
Spinach and other dark, leafy greens are rich in two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are naturally stored in our macula, a part of the retina that acts as a natural sunblock. Lutein and zeaxanthin, present in spinach absorb blue light, which is especially harmful to the retina.
Like spinach and other leafy greens, egg yolks are also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin. Egg yolks are also a natural source of vitamin D, which may reduce the risk for diabetic retinopathy and ARMD.
Kidney beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are good sources of bioflavonoids and zinc, which can help protect the retina and lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts. Apart from this, bioflavonoids have many positive effects on skin and heart as well.
5: Olive Oil
A diet that is low in trans fat and saturated fat helps prevent retinal diseases. Not only is olive oil free of trans fats and is low in saturated fat, researchers have found that subjects who reported consuming the most olive oil were 48% less likely to develop ARMD.
Just like tomatoes, Yellow corn is also a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin. One study even found that women who ate the most fruits and vegetables, including yellow corn, reduced their risk of developing cataracts.
As the only nut to contain any significant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, pistachios are the eye-friendliest of nuts. Apart from that, they also pack in significant amounts of vitamin E.
8: Whole Grains
Whole grains are low on the glycemic index (GI) and a diet containing foods with a low glycemic index (GI) can help reduce your risk for diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration. Also, zinc and niacin found in whole grains also help promote overall eye health.
9: Citrus Fruits and Berries
Oranges, grapefruit, lemons and berries are high in vitamin C, which may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Cold water fishes like Salmon is one of the best sources of eye-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and also a good source of Vitamin D, which have been shown to reduce the risk of dry eyes, macular degeneration and even cataracts.
To end with, you can improve and maintain your vision with the above stated eyetamins, but as we all know, precaution is better than cure. Hence, according to me, the most important thing for anyone who has crossed 40, get a baseline eye disease screening from an ophthalmologist.