The Complete Guide to Eye Health

  • 1 Nov 2010
  • Reading time 25 mins
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A comprehensive report that covers nutritional solutions for a range of eye problems, from macular degeneration to dry eyes.

Vegetable fats – a possible culprit

Dr Joanna Seddon of the Harvard Medical School discovered that a high-fat diet may be associated with an increased risk of developing wet AMD, after analysing the diet and health of over 800 patients with and without wet AMD. High intake of vegetable, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats commonly found in snack foods such as potato chips, french fries, cakes, biscuits and commercially prepared pies, was associated with a twofold-increased risk of developing wet AMD, according to Dr Seddon’s study. High intake of linoleic acid, a fat also found in many snack foods, was associated with the greatest risk of developing wet AMD.

Conversely, Dr Seddon and colleagues found that individuals who consumed little food containing linoleic acid and who ate two or more servings of oily fish per week showed a lower risk of developing AMD. Oily fish are high in a fat called docosahexanoic acid (DHA), which may have a healthful effect on blood vessels leading to the retina. DHA is also highly enriched in the retina and diets rich in DHA should lessen the risk of developing the disease. [4]

In a study of more than 4,000 people, researchers from Tufts University in Boston discovered that people who regularly eat high-glycaemic-load foods – white rice, pasta and bread – are more likely to develop AMD and diabetes. They estimated 20% of AMD cases could have been prevented had the patients eaten less processed foods. [5]

Eat up your carotenoids to increase visual performance

Two carotenoids present in the macula – lutein and zeathanxin – are powerful antioxidant pigments which are also particularly rich in green leafy vegetables and brightly coloured fruits. Researchers from the University of Georgia concluded these carotenoids have a positive effect on the retina, reducing disability and discomfort from glare, enhancing contrast and increasing visual range. [6]

The carotenoid pigments appear to protect the retina and lens and perhaps even prevent age-related diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein is an oil-soluble nutrient, and if you merely consume vegetables without some oil or butter, you can't absorb the lutein so well. So if you are consuming vegetable juice, it would be wise to add a splash of virgin olive oil to the juice to maximise your lutein absorption, as well as other important nutrients like vitamin K. Egg yolk ......

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