It is estimated that more than two million people in the UK have sight loss that is severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives.
Smoking is one example of a lifestyle habit that increases a person's risk of eye disease . Of people suffering sight loss, around 40% could have their vision improved by wearing correctly prescribed spectacles or contact lenses. The rest may be suffering from conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Diminishing eyesight might seem like an unavoidable consequence of getting older, but with the right diet, certain nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes, you may be able to hold on to accurate vision for longer than you think.
KEY EYE VITAMINS
VITAMIN A (BETA CAROTENE)
Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A and beta carotene. One of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness , as this vitamin is needed to synthesise a pigment in the eye that operates in low-light conditions.
Vitamin A has been studied and shown to prevent degenerative eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration .
Vitamin C which is found in high levels in many fruits and vegetables has a protective effect when it comes to eye health. It helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including collagen, found in the cornea of the eye.
Supplementing with vitamin C may help prevent diabetic retinopathy , which is a common eye disease for diabetics and a leading cause of adult blindness. The condition can be caused by the swelling and leaking of blood vessels on the surface of the retina.
Vitamin E, alongside vitamins A and C, helps to protect cells in the body from the damaging effects of inflammation and so keeps eye tissue strong and healthy.
Vitamin E has been shown to reduce the risk of suffering from cataracts , especially when supplemented alongside lutein, which is a plant nutrient that is found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, egg yolks and orange coloured vegetables.
FOODS FOR EYE HEALTH
Carotenoids are nutrients that are found mostly in plants - it is carotenoids that provide their red, orange and yellow colours and they are also present in some fish and egg yolks. They have a significant health benefit within the body.
Probably the best-known carotenoid is beta-carotene, the primary source of vitamin A from plants, but there are a few more that have been shown to benefit eye health. These include lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin.
EAT YOUR GREENS
Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow to orange carotenoids and are found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, yellow corn, egg yolks, squash, and carrots.
These carotenoids are also found concentrated in the retinas of eyes, so they are thought to be beneficial for vision.
The progression of macular degeneration has been found to be impaired by lutein and zeaxanthin .
INCLUDE OILY FISH ON THE MENU
Oily fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, and have been shown to boost eyesight in older people .
Wild salmon gets its distinctive pinky-red colour from a substance called astaxanthin, a pigment found in krill and other crustaceans which the salmon eat. Astaxanthin is effective in reducing eye fatigue and is protective against age-related macular degeneration .
Fish is another great source of zinc, which is needed for a healthy immune system and to assist in the repair of damaged tissue. Zinc has been shown to improve vision and decrease the chance of developing degenerative eye disease . Other rich sources of zinc include meat, organ meats, nuts and seeds.
PROTECT YOUR EYES
Besides eating the right foods and supplementing the right vitamins for eye health, there are other steps that you can take to protect your vision.
We all know the perils of smoking, but there is evidence to suggest that smoking has a negative impact on vision and can increase the risk of eye diseases .
HAVE REGULAR EYE EXAMINATIONS
Besides assessing vision, an optometrist will check the general health of your eyes. Age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma (a loss of peripheral vision caused by pressure-related nerve damage in the eyes) are among the leading causes of loss of sight and both conditions can be slowed if caught early.
WEAR SUNGLASSES IN BRIGHT SUNLIGHT
Just as ultraviolet light will damage skin over a lifetime, it can damage the surface of the eyes. Over time, exposure to UV light from the sun may put you at a higher risk of cataracts , which cloud vision.
The Inessa Advanced Multivitamin contains vitamins A, C & E in highly absorbable forms, and contains significant levels of lutein and zinc.
The Inessa Advanced Omega-3 provides premium quality fish oil and is a rich source of DHA to help optimise vision and keep eyes healthy.
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