Eyesight fades naturally as we grow older, but there are ways to slow Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), as it's officially known.
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According to Ian Grierson, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Liverpool, 'While research suggests that vitamins A, C, E and zinc can help keep the eye healthy, it is carotenoids, the pigments that occur naturally in plants and algae, which offer the most precise way of targeting the damage that causes sight loss.
'In particular, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin act directly to absorb the damaging blue and near-ultraviolet light, in order to protect the macula [the part of the eye that allows a person to see fine detail]. Any yellow or orange plants or vegetables contain them. They are also abundant in green vegetables such as kale and spinach.
Five reasons to eat spinach
'We should be eating 6mg of lutein a day, but the average consumption is only 2mg, which is way too low. In the Second World War, our average intake was 4-5mg and we weren’t even trying. But you cannot just eat vegetables alone, as lutein needs fat to be absorbed.
'Egg yolk is one of the UK's main sources of lutein – there is not much there, but the little there is absorbed efficiently. That is why eggs Florentine is such an effective meal – the spinach is a high source of lutein and the egg yolk maximises absorption.'
Omega-3 fatty acids: Our bodies are unable to produce Omega-3 fatty acids, so it's important to obtain them through diet. DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is one such Omega-3.
The highest concentration of DHA in our body is found within the retina, where it plays an essential role in regulating its function.
Omega-3 fats are also thought to protect the arteries that supply blood to the retina.
Eat: oily fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.
Vitamins C, E and A: These vitamins are essential for eye health as they have antioxidant properties and therefore help protect against free radical molecules. Produced by the interaction of light and oxygen, free radical molecules can cause chemical damage to the retina.
Studies have shown that people who eat adequate levels of antioxidants, which counteract free radical damage, tend to preserve their eyesight for longer than those who don't.
Eat: leafy greens like kale, spinach, cress, parsley, leafy cabbage.
Carotenoids: These natural fat-soluble pigments are found in certain plants and provide the bright red, orange, or yellow colour of many vegetables.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that accumulate in our retina, and are most concentrated in the macula and also occur in the lens of the eye. They act as antioxidants, protecting the tissue of the eyes by absorbing harmful blue light and neutralising harmful free radicals. As the body can’t produce lutein by itself, it has to be absorbed from food.
Eat: peppers, carrots and tomatoes.
Looking for an eyesight boosting supplement? Try: Bausch + Lomb’s Ocuvite® Complete which contains omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C&E, and zinc. Available from Boots, independent pharmacists and optometrists.
Seeds and seed oils, such as sunflower and safflower
Nuts and nut oils, such as almonds and hazelnuts
Red meats, especially beef, lamb and liver