Eye Health – Nutrition and Your Eyes

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr. S.S. GILL talking to us about NUTRITION & VITAMINS for the eyes.

Eating the right foods that contain the right vitamins do help to keep the eyes healthy. Good nutrition is important for both your general and eye health. It helps our body to grow, repair the wear and tear, protect against infections and to function properly. Likewise, good nutrition with vitamins and minerals are important for the eyes to function normally.

The main vitamins that are essential for the eyes include:

  • Vitamins A, C, E, B2
  • Minerals Zinc and Selenium
  • Antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin – known as ‘carotenoids’
  • Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

In this issue we will cover Vitamins A and C.

ANTIOXIDANT – VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is also known as retinol because it produces the pigments in the retina (nerve) of the eye. Vitamin A promotes good vision, especially in low light. Night blindness is therefore an early symptom of deficiency because there is damage to the retina (nerve at the back of the eye).

Vitamin A deficiency is a clear example of how the lack of this vitamin can cause serious eye problems resulting in a condition called xerophthalmia.  It is a common cause of childhood blindness in developing countries especially in Africa and Latin America. It is caused by lack of Vitamin A in the child’s diet. This is simply because the poor child does not get to eat fresh green leafy vegetables and proteins in the form of meat, eggs, cheese, fish, poultry, milk, yoghurt, dairy products, nuts and grains.

Vitamin A helps the surface of the eye form an effective barrier to bacteria and viruses, thereby reducing the risk of eye infections. The lack of vitamin A causes the cornea to become very dry, leading to clouding of the front of the eye, corneal ulcers and finally vision loss.

ANTIOXIDANT – VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is good for our whole body and particularly good for your eyes. The aqueous humor is the fluid that fills the space between the cornea and the iris in the eye and  nourishes and protects the cornea and lens.

The aqueous humor has very high levels of Vitamin C, in fact much higher levels of Vitamin C than in our blood. Therefore, maintaining high levels of Vitamin C in the aqueous is essential to nourish the eyes and protect them from oxidative stress and to help maintain clarity of the lens of the eyes. So, make sure you eat diets rich in Vitamin C like citrus fruits, capsicum, broccoli and strawberries to maintain good eye health.

Generally, a good balanced diet that includes sufficient fresh fruits and vegetables should be adequate in providing all the vitamins and minerals that the eyes need in order to be healthy and function well. The problem lies in the fast-food diets that may lack the ingredients of a healthy meal. This is where vitamin supplements could help.

Dr Gill will talk more about other aspects of nutrition for the eyes in the next article.

Should you require further information, please contact Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah 05-5455582 or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.