American researchers have highlighted the role of diet in maintaining eye health with a list of specific foods, which, when eaten regularly, could reduce eye-related diseases such as age-related macular degeneration by 25 per cent. Foods with the most beneficial effects for eyes include green leafy vegetables and oily fish.
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, kale, broccoli and Swiss chard, are the most beneficial foods for eyes. In fact, researchers have found that diets rich in this type of food can be associated with much lower levels of eye disease than other types of diet. The nutrients found in kale, for example — in particular lutein and zeaxanthin — are believed to lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Cataracts form when the crystalline lens — a small oval lens situated behind the pupil — loses transparency. When this lens becomes cloudy, it's more difficult for light to reach the retina. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a serious illness that affects the retina and leads to the progressive loss of sight.
Fish twice a week
Two servings of fish per week are recommended for healthy peepers. Salmon, sardines and mackerel are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids which protect the heart and the eyes. It's better to avoid farmed fish and check sources carefully to minimize the presence of lead and mercury.
In general, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a low-fat diet that's rich in (red) fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds (almonds, sesame seeds). Tuck into plenty of foods containing zinc and antioxidants to take extra care of your eyes. Vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E and selenium all protect blood vessels, which in turn benefits the eyes. Pluses like lentils and kidney beans are excellent sources of zinc, as are almonds, calf's liver, oysters and rye bread.
Mix up a smoothie
Why not try mixing and matching the ingredients above to make a tasty juice cocktail packed with eye-boosting vitamins and minerals? Try blending two apricots with one kale leaf, one cup of blueberries, half an avocado, 100ml of almond milk and half a teaspoon of ginger.
What to avoid
Avoid the sun, cigarette smoke, high blood pressure and fatty or fried foods. These can all irritate tissue in the eye and cause it to deteriorate more easily.