Nutritionist reveals important vitamin which helps to protect eyes from damage

Eye health: Nutritionist reveals foods that protect your eyes

The famous saying goes “you are what you eat”, and in regards to certain aspects of our health this is true.

While we often consider diet when we think of health issues such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes, it can also have an effect on our eyes.

In fact, consuming more of certain vitamins can even help protect the eyes from damage.

A nutritionist spoke with about how to keep a specific part of the eye healthy through your diet.

Public health nutritionist, Dr Emma Derbyshire from Macushield, said: “It is very important to look after our eye health all year round, even more so in the summer thanks to bright sunshine, air-conditioned offices, dry atmospheres, dust, sand and seawater.

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“Overexposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light can be very damaging to the health of the back of the eye and may, over time, increase the risk of serious eye conditions. It’s important to regularly take steps to help look after our eyes. And that includes a specific part of the eyes – the macula – which is responsible for many aspects of vision.

“The macula is part of the retina, right at the back of the eye. It is only about 5mm across, but it is responsible for our central vision, most of our colour vision and the fine detail of what we see. 

“The macula has a very high concentration of photoreceptor cells – the cells that detect light. 

“The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina and gives us sharp central vision essential for activities like reading and driving.”

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Ms Derybshire recommended upping your vitamin C intake as one way to protect the macula.

“Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant vitamin which helps protect the macula from oxidative damage,” she said.

“The eye is made up of layers of connective tissues maintained by collagen. 

“Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen and collagen is really important for the eyes as it basically holds the eyes together and protects them.”

Good sources of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons
  • Kiwis
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower)
  • White potatoes.

What does research say?

One 10 year-long study, published in Ophthalmology journal in 2016, found that vitamin C is linked to the development of cataracts in the eyes.

Cataracts occur when cloudy patches form on the lens of the eye.

These patches usually grow bigger over time causing blurred vision and eventually blindness.

The study followed more than 1,000 pairs of female twins.

It concluded that participants who consumed more vitamin C showed a 33 percent reduction in the risk of cataract progression, as well as clearer lenses overall.

However, a separate study from Nutrients journal in 2020 found that the link between vitamin C consumption and cataracts was not definite and more research was needed.

Ms Derbyshire also advised eating foods rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E, zinc, copper and vitamin B2 to promote healthy eyes.

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