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Everyone thinks that carrots help with eye health, but, in fact, they are of no more use to our eyes than any other vegetable.
The myth started in World War II when the Government famously responded to a temporary wartime oversupply of carrots by suggesting that the RAF’s exceptional night-flying and target success was due to eating plenty of carrots.
The ruse worked: consumption increased sharply because people thought carrots might help them see in the blackout, thus taking the pressure off other more scarce food supplies. I am sure many of us were all told by our mothers growing up that carrots can ‘help improve your eyesight’ however this is merely a myth!
What is actually good for your eyes are leafy green vegetables such as SPINACH AND KALE.
These contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — the most common cause of blindness in the UK.
In macular degeneration the centre part of the vision is affected, the ability the ability to read, drive a car, and even recognise familiar faces can be lost. Since there’s no treatment for dry AMD, prevention could not be more essential.
Studies have shown that those groups of people that had the highest consumption of spinach had an 86% lower chance of developing AMD as compared to the study group that had the lowest spinach consumption. This is because the more spinach you eat, the more lutein increases in the macula area (this is the part of the eye where all our detailed vision is) helping to reduce any damage that occurs over time.
It is advisable to have spinach/kale at least once a week. You can have it cooked or uncooked with some studies suggesting that the bioavailability may be increased if cooked (it gets absorbed into the blood stream more easily).
Eggs are a very useful source of both Lutein and Zeaxanthin and because of the fat contained in eggs its bioavailability is one of the highest meaning it gets absorbed easily into the blood stream.
See table below for other foods that contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
|Food||Lutein Trans (µg per 100 g)||Zeaxanthin Trans (µg per 100 g)|
|Green beans, cooked||306||0|
|Orange pepper, raw||208||1665|
|Lettuce, romaine, raw||3824||0|
|Pistachio nuts, raw||1405||0|
|Egg whole, cooked||237||216|
|Egg yolk, cooked||645||587|
|Egg whole, raw||288||279|
|Egg yolk, raw||787||762|
So why not try a spinach cannaloni, spinach and potato curry, or lamb and spinach curry this weekend? The creators of ‘Popeye’ certainly got one thing right, Spinach is good for you!
Written by our Optometrist Shamina Asif BSc MCOptom
Moores Opticians – looking after the health of your eyes and offering free retinal photography with each eye test making it easier to monitor the health of your eyes over time.
References: Lutein and Zeaxanthin—Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection, Nutrients. 2017 Feb; 9(2): 120, Bronwyn Eisenhauer,1 Sharon Natoli,1 Gerald Liew,2 and Victoria M. Flood
What is Diabetes?
Having Diabetes which is not controlled can not only affect your body, it can also affect your eyes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when
- You do not make enough insulin for your body’s needs or
- The cells in your body do not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. The cells in your body become resistant to normal levels of insulin. This means that you need more insulin than you normally make to keep the blood sugar (glucose) level down, or both can happen at the same time.
Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 diabetes and develops mainly in people older than the age of 40 (but can also occur in younger people).
- In England, about 1 in 10 people aged 45-54 years have diabetes and about 1 in 4 people aged over 75 years have diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes is now becoming more common in children and in young people.
- 9 out of every 10 people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing in the UK, as it is more common in people who are overweight or obese. It also tends to run in families. It is around five times more common in South Asian and African-Caribbean people (often developing before the age of 40 in this group).
How does Diabetes affect my eyes?
People who have diabetes are more likely to develop cataract than people who do not, and people who have diabetes may develop diabetic retinopathy. They are also more likely to develop glaucoma.
A patient with poorly controlled diabetes risks damage to the retina (diabetic retinopathy).
Diabetic retinopathy is when the small blood vessels in your retina leak fluid into the retina. Although this does not affect your vision in the early stages, if it is left untreated it may lead to sight loss. This complication of diabetes is caused by high blood sugar levels which over time causes damage to the back of the eye. It can lead to blindness if undiagnosed and untreated. How long a person has had diabetes and how well controlled the condition is are the most important risk factors. After 20 years, diabetic retinopathy will develop in almost all people with Type 1 diabetes, and around 60% of people with Type 2 diabetes.
You can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by keeping your blood sugar under control as much as you can.
A picture of the back of the eye of a patient who has uncontrolled diabetes, the yellowing at the arrow are fatty deposits, and if this continues to stay uncontrolled it could affect the patients sight permanently.
Diabetic Eye Screening
With a few exceptions, the NHS arranges for all people who have diabetes and are aged over 12 to be invited to have screening for diabetic retinopathy. It is very important to have this done regularly, as early detection of diabetic retinopathy means that treatment is more effective. Moores opticians offers Diabetic Screening so if you have not had this book now! Your pupils will be dilated with drops so you cannot drive after a screening appointment.
Written by our Optometrist Shamina Asif (BSc MCOptom)