Can vitamins and minerals reduce our risk of developing conditions like cataracts and age-related macular-degeneration (AMD)? Medical opinion on this topic is divided. There has always been a great deal of interest in the role of nutrition and its effect on our vision. While some studies have shown that a balanced diet improves eye health, others haven’t shown any relationship between nutrition and eyesight. Still, most experts agree that good nutrition is good for both general health and eye health.
It is a well-known fact that the deficiency of vitamin A can cause childhood blindness. This condition is widely prevalent in developing nations. It can be prevented by including fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, poultry, nuts and milk in the diet. These are all good sources of vitamin A.
Vitamins and eyesight
Several studies have linked antioxidants found in some food items with eye health. These nutrients keep tissues and cells in the eye healthy.
Antioxidant vitamins like A, C and E are particularly helpful. These vitamins are found in many fruits and vegetables including:
- Dried apricots
- Raw carrots
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli
- Green peas and beans
- Brussels sprouts.
Seeds, nuts, eggs and dairy products are also rich sources of vitamin A, C and E.
Carotenoids and eye health
Two types of antioxidants called ‘carotenoids’ and Zeaxanthin may help improve eye health. Several studies have shown that people who consume foods rich in carotenoids have a relatively lower risk of developing AMD.
Carotenoids are present in fresh vegetables and fruit. Rich sources include mangoes, yellow peppers and green leafy vegetables like spinach, and broccoli.
A large clinical trial has shown that high quantities of the vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene and minerals zinc and copper can reduce the progression of AMD. Since it is nearly impossible to get large quantities of vitamins from your diet, some people take vitamin and anti-oxidant supplements. On the down side, high doses of minerals and vitamins may have negative side effects. It is therefore recommended that you should consult your doctor before taking supplements.
Some studies do suggest that vitamins and minerals can improve your eye health. There have also been studies that show hardly any relationship between eye health and nutrition. However, since a large number of studies do seem to suggest that nutrition can improve eye sight, several supplements for eye health are now available on the market. The medical opinion on the use of these supplements is still divided.
Here are a few things you can do to improve your eye health.
- Eat lots of vegetables and fresh fruit.
- Consult your doctor before taking vitamin supplements.
- Protect your eyes from sunlight. Use quality sunglasses.
- Quit smoking.