By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about foods that help promote eye health.
As we approach the year-end festive season with Christmas, followed by the New Year and Chinese New Year, we are once again presented with numerous opportunities for indulging in our favourite foods. Nothing wrong with some generous eating, but do think about incorporating some of these ingredients into your festive dishes. They are not only delicious, but promote good eye health at the same time!
Green Leafy Vegetables
We all know that carrots, which are full of beta-carotene, are good for the eyes. Dark green, leafy vegetables are equally good for the eyes as they are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin; both of which are antioxidants that help lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. In the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) of 4757 patients, it showed that those who had a higher intake of lutein with zeaxanthin in their diet had less incidence of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). These carotenoids keep the eyes safe from oxidative stress especially from the exposure to blue light (high energy photons) which damages the eyes.
Berries and Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits and berries are packed with vitamin C which helps in keeping the lenses in our eyes clear and while also helping in reducing the effects of degeneration of the macular. Citrus foods include oranges, grapefruit, lemons, some limes and some tangerines. Of course, there are also fruits like papaya and kiwi fruit that are rich in vitamin C too. Berries such as blueberries, cranberries, bilberries and strawberries contain powerful antioxidants which include Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin E. They help reduce damage from free radicals that injure the cells in our eyes.
Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts are full of nutrients like omega-3 fats, zinc, niacin and vitamin E, which help boost eye health, reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies and cod have high amounts of DHA (Docosahexaenoc Acid), which is a fatty acid found in your retina. Studies done in patients with dry eyes have shown that they have reduced levels of DHA in their retina (nerve of the eye). DHA is also important in the development of the eyes and nerves in a child.
Surprised? This food, which is a basic ingredient in many types of desserts and cakes, has had its fair share of bad press because of its supposed high cholesterol content. But did you know that the yolk of the egg is a prime source of lutein and zeaxanthin, including zinc, which helps reduce your risk of macular degeneration? So, we can now say, “An egg a day keeps the eye doctor away!”
In a nutshell, it is important to get a good balanced diet that includes sufficient fresh fruits and vegetables. However, if you feel that your diet lacks adequate vitamins and minerals, you might want to consider taking a supplement for general eye health when:
- your regular diet does not include enough fresh fruit and vegetables
- it is hard to obtain or prepare fresh fruit and vegetables
- you have been told to take a vitamin supplement by your eye doctor.