Eye Health

18 May 2009

Healthy diet good for eyes too

A nutritious diet could help with the health of your eyes as well as the rest of your body, according to a new study.


A nutritious diet could help with the health of your eyes as well as the rest of your body, according to a new study.

Eating foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids and that have less impact on blood sugar levels (so-called low-glycaemic index foods) can lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), researchers have found.

Citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold-water fish contain higher levels of these eye-healthy nutrients.

9 million may get blinding eye disease
AMD can destroy the eye's retina, the sensitive tissue that transmits images to the brain, causing people to lose the central vision critical to good eyesight. A recent study funded by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 9 million people will have the potentially blinding eye disease by 2010, and that number could double by 2050, with 1.6 million of these people being legally blind.

The study, led by Tufts University's Chung-Jung Chiu, found the lowest risk of developing early and advanced AMD was among people who consumed more protective nutrients and low-glycaemic index foods. The conclusions were based on analysing the eating habits of more than 4 000 study participants, and determining their AMD risk from diagnostic photographs of their eyes.

Useful new tool
While previous studies have looked at the eye-protective value of individual nutrients and foods, this is the first to look at them in combination, according to a news release issued by the journal Ophthalmology.

"Although the compound score may be a useful new tool for assessing nutrients in relation to AMD, specific dietary recommendations should be made only after our results are confirmed by clinical trials or prospective studies," Chiu, who is part of Tufts' Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing, said in the news release. – (HealthDay News, May 2009)

Read more:
Low GI diet may save sight


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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