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Eye Nutrition

Eye Nutrition

Deterioration of vision seems to be accepted as a natural part of the ageing process, but ageing does not necessarily equate to deterioration in vision. It is accepted that maintaining a healthy balanced diet is essential for the general maintenance of the body, and equally, well nourished eyes, through the correct diet will help to maintain good healthy vision as we grow older.

We recently produced a blog talking about Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) which you can read here and ARMD is the most common cause of blindness in the UK. In most cases, this is largely preventable through looking after your eye nutrition.

The team at The Spectacle Shop opticians in Barnsley would like to take this opportunity to offer the results of our findings into eye nutrition and advise our customers – old and new, about the types of foods that help with eye nutrition.

Kale, Spinach & other leafy greens

In our recent blog we talk a lot about Lutein and Zeaxanthin which are essential nutrients for general eye nutrition. Both of these nutrients are found in the macula – the macula is the small central part of the retina which is responsible for central vision. Both Lutein and Zeaxanthin are found in green leafy vegetables and alongside The Macular Society we thoroughly recommend incorporating Kale into your diet; Kale contains a considerably higher concentration of Lutein than any other vegetable. You can also find Lutein in carrots and squash.

Bilberries and Blueberries

download (1)Both bilberries and blueberries are fantastic “super-foods” for eye nutrition. Research is suggesting that Bilberries in particular are proving excellent for slowing down, and even reversing the effects of Macular Degeneration.

A 2005 study in the journal Advances in Gerontology5 found that animals with early senile cataract and macular degeneration who received 20 mg of bilberry extract per kilo of body weight suffered no impairment of their lens and retina, while 70 percent of the control group suffered degeneration over the three month-long study. According to the authors:

“The results suggest that… long-term supplementation with bilberry extract is effective in prevention of macular degeneration and cataract.”

Below is a table showing the Lutein content of foods. Kale as mentioned is a clear winner, followed by Spinach. Worth noting – to really get the full benefit of these vegetables it is advised that they are taken in the rawest form. Many of our customers are giving a “juicing” a try, where one blends the vegetables and consumes them as a drink; there are many recipes across the internet for juicing vegetables. Once you heat vegetables, the Lutein and Zeaxanthin become damaged and thus they will not perform as well in preventing degeneration of the macula. Lutein is also partly oil -soluble, we therefore advise that you eat the vegetables with a little bit of healthy fat – such as olive oil, to maximise the Lutein absorption.


Fish and eye nutrition

It is important, for your eyes to function properly, that you have an intake of fats such as Omega 3, and this applies for your eye nutrition as well. When adding fish to your diet, it is important that you select the right fish – you need to be looking for fish that are low in mercury contamination. The clear winner in this respect, although not “cheap” is wild caught Alaskan salmon; it is very high in omega-3 and low in mercury.

Additional advice regarding supplements 

Following a study performed a few years ago called Areds2 trial which was designed to assess the effects of oral supplementation of macular xanthophylls (lutein and zeaxanthin) and/or long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid) [DHA] and eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] ) on the progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) it was found that supplements uniquely containing Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin (derived from the marigold flower) can help to rebuild the pigment in the macula which comes from the carotenoids: lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin.

We would only advise taking supplements for the eyes following and MPOD Test which will identify the level of pigment in the eyes, as if your pigment levels are okay you will not need supplementation. Should you need to consider supplements, there are a number of supplements available on the market and we thoroughly endorse a product called MacuShield which is tested at leading research institutes, and endorsed by eye care professionals worldwide. The MacuShield product is available at The Spectacle Shop and on the MacuShield website including an excellent videoMacuShield-Small-30-240x240

Here at the Spectacle Shop opticians in Barnsley we are very passionate about helping our patients with eye nutrition and we are happy to offer free advice at any time – email or call into the shop for an informal chat and a coffee. you can find more information in our linked blog here or visit our website at