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Diet and Eye Health

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Gaining weight due to a lack of exercise and poor dietary habits can increase ones risk of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Obesity and inactivity have also been shown to be risk factors for age related macular degeneration, and indirectly for glaucoma and cataracts.{{more}}

To preserve vision and improve one’s quality of life, it is imperative to increase physical activity and maintain a well balanced diet.

Last week, we discussed the role of antioxidants in the preservation of good vision. Antioxidants destroy free radicals and serve to protect tissue from destructive oxidative processes. Current research focuses on the protective role of antioxidants and some micronutrients.

Some examples of antioxidants and micronutrients are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q, Beta-carotene(a precursor of vitamin A), Carotenoids (especially lutein and zeaxanthin), Alpha-lipoic acid, Selenium and Zinc.

To keep the eyes healthy, lead an active lifestyle, take nutritional supplements and follow the diet recommendations below:

1. A well-balanced diet should comprise of approximately 50- 60 per cent complex carbohydrates

20- 25 per cent protein and 20-25 per cent fats (predominantly unsaturated fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids).

2. Eat less saturated fat.

3. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

4. Reduce your consumption of dairy products and fatty meats.

5. Fast foods contain high levels of harmful saturated fats and trans-fatty acids. Avoid them.

6. Avoid sweets, soft drinks, and other foods that contain high levels of refined sugars.

7. Drink at least 10 glasses of water daily.

8. As mentioned before, supplement your diet with multi-vitamins to ensure you are getting the necessary micronutrients needed for healthy vision.

Anything that can affect the health of the cardiovascular system always has the potential for causing damage to our eyes. Arteriosclerosis can block the supply of blood to the eye, resulting in sudden loss of vision. Lack of exercise and Type 2 diabetes due to poor dietary habits can lead to diabetic eye disease (retinopathy) and vision loss.

More than ever before research confirms the connection between diet and eye health:

o One study demonstrates that the vegetable fats found in many snacks and in French fries are associated with a higher risk of age-related macular degeneration. People whose diets were high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oils, and low in vegetable fats appeared to have a lower than normal risk of AMD

o In a study of 17,000 male physicians, researchers found that those with abdominal fat were 31 per cent more likely to develop cataracts than those without “love handles”.

Remember to talk to your doctor if you need more clarification.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: Beachmont@gmail.com
Tel: 784 456-1210

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