Diseases abound everywhere, including the eyes. Nevertheless, most diseases could be prevented, including eye diseases like cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy and so on. Hitherto, all these disease, especially cataract and macular degeneration were thought to be unavoidable but recent researches on drugs and foods have proven this otherwise.
Our eyes depend upon antioxidants for protection from diseases. Clinical studies show that risk of developing cataract can be decreased by more than half by eating fruits and vegetables rich in anti-oxidants like Vitamin A, C, E, selenium and glutathione.
The risk of developing glaucoma could be lowered by consuming high levels of vitamin C and B12. The risk of developing macular degeneration is reduced by maintaining high level of Vitamin A, E, the Carotenoids (betacarotein and lutein) and the amino acid, Taurine (found in egg whites).
Diabetic retinopathy can be delayed (or prevented) by consuming Vitamin C along with Alpha Lipoic acid, Bilberry and other bioflavonoids. Night blindness (Retinitis Pigmentosa) could be prevented by consuming food rich in vitamin A. (see table 1 for natural sources of these vitamins and bioflavonoids)
The essential fatty acids – found in both mono-saturated and poly-unsaturated fats are necessary for the proper development of the eye and brain. They are required for a healthy cell membrane, proper immune system functioning and visual acuity. The two major groups of essential fatty acids are the:
Omega -6 ( Linolenic acid) fats
Omega-3 ( Alpha-linolenic acid) fat. ( see table 1 for food rich in these essential fatty acids)
Omega 3 (in DHA – docosahexaenoic acid) makes up about 50% of the fat in the brain and the eye (retina). Therefore, it contributes greatly to eye health. (See table 1 for natural source of Omega 3 and Omega 6)
The long-term treatment and prevention of diseases must utilize food. To achieve good eye health, the following are some tips.
- Replace candy dishes with a bowl of fruits.
- Start replacing the sodas, other packaged drinks, and even the commercial fruit juices in your refrigerator with good bottled or filtered water or freshly made juices.
- Avoid packaged food as much as possible.
- Eat a salad, if possible everyday. The darker the greens, the better
- Everyone should drink six- eight glasses of water (8 ounces each) daily. Note that water helps to transport all the nutrients throughout our bodies and help us maintain a constant internal temperature. It helps to create the fluid in our eyes, the blood that brings nourishment to them and the lymph fluid that carries away waste products. The glands that make the tear film is very sensitive to loss of fluids.
- Avoid nuts and chocolate. Nuts and chocolate are rich in essential amino acids called Arginine. Arginine can trigger off herpes on the eyes, lips and elsewhere in the body. So they are not good for your eye health.
- Try to reduce stress. Researches have found out that stress is a major contributor to the development of cataract, heart disease and cancer. This is because stress rapidly uses up circulating and cellular antioxidants like Vitamin A, E, and C that protect the eyes against diseases.
- Avoid hydrogenated fat and oil produced by some manufacturing companies. Example is margarine made from cottonseed oil, to which bubbled hydrogen (hydrogenated) and nickel have been added to make it solid. Also artificial cheese food, crackers, chips, and many kinds of dips contain hydrogenated fats as well as trans-fats. These trans-fat are damaging to the eyes. Trans-fats block the liver’s functions, including production and release of glutathione. Glutathione is very essential to eye health.
- Eat plants rich in phytochemicals (Vitamins and Bioflavonoids). Phytochemicals are found at highest concentration in the skin of fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals help to protect the liver and facilitate blood flow throughout the body including brain and the eye (retina). (see table 1 for food rich in phytochemicals).
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. Most of them contain neurotoxins. They can damage the optic nerves in the eyes as well as other nervous tissues in the body.
- Stop smoking. And for non-smokers, try to avoid second-hand smoke. The smoke cause excessive dehydration of your tear film. The tear film is essential for the eyes to stay healthy. Lack of tear film in the eyes can cause dry eye that can lead to blindness.
- Avoid excessive intake of coffee and alcohol. The caffeine in it could cause retinal problems and dehydration of tear film.
- Always get enough sleep. Your eyes, even body, heal themselves mostly at night, in the dark, while you sleep.
The long-term treatment and prevention of disease must utilize food. Food is the nature’s pharmacy. While food will always be more nutritious than pills, there are oceans of evidence that we can neutralize eye diseases through nutrition and supplementation. Remember that the eyes are extension of the whole body. Anything you put into your body, good or bad, you are also putting into your eyes. Small changes in our lifestyle today can have great impact overtime.
According to Hippocrates (5th century BC). He said “Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food”. Try to follow this wise advice and design your own nutritional program to protect your eyes and body. I am sure if you do this, you will shine when you take your next examination with me at Supreme Vision Ltd.