Healthy eyes look clear, vibrant and give a more youthful appearance that those that look dull and tired. Our eyes in particular, are more susceptible to damage from lifestyle and environmental factors than any other organ. The good news is that high quality nutrition, as well as improving lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, greatly benefit the health of our eyes and can help to prevent common eye complaints.
Dry eyes can occur if you forget to blink when concentrating or looking at a computer screen. Some people can also suffer with dry eyes all the time, due to reduced tear production, which becomes more common with increasing age.
If you use a computer, take frequent breaks to reduce the chance of eye strain, and remember to blink to lubricate the eyes. It is also a good idea to look away from the screen often and focus on objects at varying distances away. Increasing your intake of oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, or taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement can also help to prevent dry eyes.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
This is a painless, progressive disorder that is a common cause of vision loss in later life. It is associated with reduced levels of carotenoid pigments in the macular - the part of the retina responsible for fine vision. These yellow pigments, lutein and zeaxanthin, filter out harmful blue light and help to neutralize the damaging chemicals produced during light detection. When pigment levels in the macular are reduced, cells damage increases, leading to a widening circle of visual distortion and even blindness.
Research suggests that those who obtain the most dietary sources of lutein - dark-green, orange and yellow fruit and vegetables - have at least a 60% lower risk of developing AMD than those with low intakes. According to the journal Optometry, taking lutein supplements can improve vision in people with some forms of AMD. Zinc, vitamins C and E, and omega-3 fish oils are also beneficial to prevent or treat AMD.
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye in the normally crystal clear eye lens. They are caused by changes in lens proteins that are similar to those which turn cooked egg white from clear to cloudy. This results in blurring, sensitivity to the sun, changes in color perception and seeing halos around light. Most cataracts are due to degenerative changes with increasing age.
People with the highest dietary intakes of antioxidants, especially vitamins C, E and lutein, are less likely to develop cataracts than those with low intakes. Vitamin B2 helps to maintain levels of an important eye antioxidant, 'glutathione', which is associated with inhibiting cataract formation.