Eye health: Nutritionist reveals foods that protect your eyes
Like any other organs in the body, your eyes can be affected by your lifestyle choices.
This includes diet, with certain foods potentially helping or hindering how well they function.
Now a study has pinpointed three types of foods – based solely on their colour – that could help improve both the health of your eyes and your vision.
Researchers from the University of Georgia in the US found that supplementing diets with colourful fruits and vegetables could improve visual range.
The study, which was published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, considered how a group of plant compounds that build up in the retina, known as macular pigments, work to improve eye health and functional vision.
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Specifically eating vegetables that are dark green, yellow or orange were proven to boost eyesight.
The findings come as previous studies have shown that foods of this colour can improve eye and brain health.
This is due to the fact that plants of this colour contain high levels of the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin.
In a university release, the study’s lead author Jack Harth explained: “A lot of the research into macular lutein and zeaxanthin has focused on health benefits, but from a functional perspective, higher concentrations of these plant pigments improve many aspects of visual and cognitive ability.
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“In this paper, we discuss their ability to improve vision in the far distance or visual range.”
As part of their study, they focused on the impact the foods had on the visual range of athletes due to their need to be able to see a target clearly over distance.
Often objects become harder to see and appear fuzzier the farther away they are due to the effects of blue light.
Mr Harth said: “From a centre fielder’s [a baseball position] perspective, if that ball’s coming up in the air, it will be seen against a background of bright blue sky, or against a grey background if it’s a cloudy day.
“Either way, the target is obscured by atmospheric interference coming into that path of the light.”
Many athletes currently tackle this by using eye black or blue blocker sunglasses.
But Mr Harth believes eating more foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can improve the eye’s natural ability to handle blue light exposure.
He said this is because when a person absorbs lutein and zeaxanthin, the compounds collect as yellow pigments in the retina and act as a filter to prevent blue light from entering the eye.
However, Mr Harth cautioned that everybody is different.
He said that the way our bodies absorb and use lutein and zeaxanthin varies, and it could take a while before you notice any improvements, if at all.
“We have data from modelling and empirical studies showing that higher macular pigment in your retina will improve your ability to see over distance,” he added.
“The application for athletes is clear.”
Foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin include:
- Orange juice
- Honeydew melon
- Egg yolk.
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