Who remembers the old wives' tale that if you ate carrots you would see in the dark? In some part this is true, but not because of the carrot, but the nutrition that the carrot provides. From birth to our latter years nutrition continually plays a part in optimal visual health. This article covers, common eye problems, alongside how to maintain healthy eyes through diet and lifestyle.
Statistics on Eye Problems
According to NHS England, In the UK, there are almost 2 million people living with sight loss. Of these, around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted. There are many reasons for sight loss, these include Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (~475,000 people), Cataracts (~380,000 people), Glaucoma (~145,000 people). By 2030, it is estimated that more than 2.7 million people in the UK will be living with sight loss. This growth will be primarily driven by an ageing population.
Common Eye Problems
Some of the most common eye problems are mentioned above, but here is a list of the most common within the UK:
- Colour blindness
- Computer eye strain
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Double Vision
- Long- and short-sightedness
- Macular Degeneration
- Night Blindness
Prominent Studies on Nutrition and Eye Health
One prominent study in the world of vision care is the ARED Study which stands for Age related Eye-disease Study. This was carried out by the national eye institute. The aim of this study was to assess whether taking nutritional supplements could prevent or slow the progress of age-related disease such as macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. This studied people between the ages of 55-80 years for 10 years after their enrollment.
The supplement formulation used for this study contains a blend of: Vitamin C,E, Beta-carotene, Copper, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc in varying degrees between the first and second AREDs formula.
Here are some of the key findings of the study:
- Taking the ARED supplement reduces the risk of progression from intermediate-advanced AMD by 25%
- These supplements do not prevent AMD or prevent cataracts.
- Current and former smokers should take the AREDS2 formula but should avoid the AREDS formula with beta-carotene.
Nutrition Advice For Vision Health
Vitamin A is the umbrella term for many different forms, under the subcategories Retinoids and Carotenoids. Retinol is typically found in animal products such as dairy products. Whereas carotenoids are found in plant-based products such as fruit and vegetables. There are many forms of carotenoids including those mentioned in the ARED study, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and meso-zeaxanthin. Key studies have found that, Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in the lens and retina and are referred to as macular pigment. These two carotenoids are thought to act as antioxidants and absorbing incoming blue light. Many studies indicate that Vitamin A is essential for the maintenance of normal vision. In fact, in areas of the world where Vitamin A is severely lacking in the endemic diet the symptomatic outcomes include diseases such as Xerophthalmia.
Vitamin B2 also known as Riboflavin is thought to contribute to the maintenance of normal vision. Studies report that animals that are fed Vitamin B2 deficient diets develop cataracts and corneal vascularisation. One study found a 31–51% decreased risk of cataracts development when participants’ diets included 1.6–2.2 mg of riboflavin per day, compared to 0.08 mg per day. Not to mention, one study finding that riboflavin receptors were found in the retina. These receptors are thought to be responsible for dark light adaptation, with even more reports stating that deficiency may progress night-blindness. Vitamin B2 can be found in milk, cheese, egg, meats, organ meats, green leafy vegetables and cereals.
Omega 3 Oils- DHA
DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid is a form of omega 3 fatty acid. DHA is naturally found in the retina of human eyes. For example, many studies in infants have shown that omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in visual development. Not to mention, rat studies have demonstrated that high dietary intake of DHA help to minimise retinal degeneration. DHA oils are most commonly found in oily fish, but can also be sourced from algae, known as vegan DHA.
Vitamins C & E are well known for their antioxidant properties. They act by preventing the oxidation and damage of tissues by free radicals. In addition, Vitamin C contributes to the formation of collagen which helps to create effective blood vessels for improved circulation to the eye. Vitamin C can be found in all fruits and vegetables. Whereas Vitamin E can be sourced from plant oils, nuts and seeds.
Our Optimeyes Tablets
The Optimeyes formula was based on profound scientific research in the field of optometry, the ARED study discussed above. Vytaliving’s OptimEyes has been formulated to optimise vision health. Each of the 7 ingredients has been hand-picked by a Nutritionist to support your wellbeing. We are confident that our formulation contributes to the maintenance of normal vision by providing a blend of traditional nutrients and herbals. Including, Zinc, Vitamin A, Eyebright, Bilberry, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso zeaxanthin.
Lifestyle Advice for Vision Health
According to the NHS, you are recommended to have a vision test at least once every 2 years, unless you have obvious changes to your vision in the meantime. Other great advice to maintain eye health includes:
- Make sure you take regular breaks from blue-light emitting devices such as phones and computer screens. The recommendation is simply 20-20-20, every 20 mins, look at something 20 meters away for 20 seconds.
- If you wear contact lenses, ensure that you avoid eye infections by washing your hands before putting them in your eye.
- If you are a smoker try reduce or quit smoking. The cigarette smoke can damage the structure within the eye.
- Protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays.
There are plenty of resources and organisations that can support you if you are experiencing sight loss, here are a few:
- NHS, always ask your GP first.
- Opticians such as Specsavers and Vision Express
- National Eye Institute for the Blind
- RNIB- Royal National
- Fight for Sight
- Glaucoma UK
- National Eye Health Week – 20th-26th 2021