Nutrition and the eye

Nutrition can play an important role in the health of your eyes. The correct balance of nutrients can help in a number of problems such as age-related macular degeneration or dry eye.

Evidence suggests that increasing your levels of lutein and zeaxanthin can help prevent or slow down age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

There are two ways in which you can do this. First of all, you can switch to a healthy diet rich in foods such as spinach, kale, carrots and broccoli.

Foods containing high levels of lutein:

Kale  40mg/100g (raw)  20mg/100g (cooked)
Spinach  12mg/100g (raw)  11mg/100g (cooked)
Romaine lettuce  2.4mg/100g
Broccoli  2mg/100g
Leeks (raw) 1.9mg/100g
Corn  1.8mg/100g
Peas  1.7mg/100g
Brussel sprouts  1.7mg/100g
Green beans  0.8mg/100g
Iceberg lettuce (pale)  0.4mg/100g
Carrots (raw)  0.4mg/100g
Tangerines  0.3mg/100g
Oranges  0.2mg/100g
Tomatoes  0.2mg/100g
Eggs (in one large yolk)  0.25mg/100g

The second option is to take a specially formulated supplement such as Visionace or Nutrof Total. We strongly recommend this if you are at risk of AMD or are already affected by the condition - the tablet format will ensure that you receive the correct amount of nutrients. Taking 10mg of lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin on a daily basis has been shown to be beneficial.

Lutein is easier to digest if it is combined with fats and oils such as Omega 3, so many supplements will include these. Note, however, that fish oil is usually the preferred source so such products will not be suitable for vegetarians.

Also note that some supplements are not suitable for people who smoke (or have stopped recently). High levels of beta carotene may increase risk of lung cancer associated with tobacco use. If this applies to you, please ask for professional advice because only certain brands will be safe.  However, smoking is the single biggest risk factor in developing AMD in the first place, so quitting should be your first priority if you wish to prevent vision loss.

Good nutrition can also help with conditions such as dry eye.

Dry eye occurs when you do not have enough tears, or the tears you are producing are of poor quality and evaporate faster than they should. Growing evidence suggests that supplementing your intake of Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils (in which many people are deficient) can be helpful in these cases.

The principal source of these nutrients is oily fish. If this is not an integral part of your diet, you may wish to consider taking supplements such as Hyabak Caps which contains the recommended amount of fish oils.

Vegetarians will need to increase their intake from alternative sources such as flax seeds, seaweed, mustard oil and berries.