Updated: Aug 12
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Sun will be out this week, which means: take good care of those precious peepers! Too much exposure of sunlight can lead to eye damage due to UV-related sunburn of the eye and local inflammation. This could cause several eye diseases to occur, such as: age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
What can I do myself?
Boost your Lutein & Zeaxanthin levels
What? Yes, lutein and zeaxanthin. In short these are carotenoids that accumulate in the eye's retina, where they have a protective function .
Things to eat: veggies & fruits
We now know that flavonoids fulfil various protective, antioxidant functions in the body. They are common in fruits and vegetables, as are carotenoids. Carotenoids are actually dyes; they are common in plant-derived foods. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids which are especially found in orange and reddish vegetables (think of pumpkins and peaches), but are also found in dark leafy veggies and pistachio nuts, for instance. They appear to play a role in our vision and eye health , so it will not surprise you when I confirm the well-known saying that eating carrots is good for your eyes!
More things to eat: eggs
Eggs have traditionally been praised for their proteins and personally, I think they taste good as well. They contain the complete spectrum of amino acids and another good thing here is that they are rich in fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids such as the abovementioned lutein, the pigment that protects against age-related diseases of the eye.
It used to be thought that you should only eat two or three eggs a week because they contain a lot of cholesterol. Studies from the 1960s pointed to a linear relationship between cholesterol in the blood and cholesterol in food, and wrongly concluded that the cholesterol we eat causes cardiovascular disease [3,4]. But that's just a note on the side. Eat your eggs, because not only your muscles and tongue loves them, your eyes do too; it's a triple win!
What's the effect?
Back to eye health. Eating sufficient foods that contain these natural antioxidants leads to their accumulation inside your eye's retina, where they can help you [5,6,7,8]:
Reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration
Reduce the risk of cataracts
Reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy*
*an observation that follows from animal studies.
What else? Wear your goggles!
In many aspects, your gut is the gateway to good health. But obviously, we can't all be food scientists and sometimes it's good to simply rely on common sense: wearing proper sunnies would always be a good idea to protect your eyeballs from the elements.
Take good care of yourself!
Obviously I don't need online coaching for optimising my dietary habits, but in my case, a good pair of eyes is crucial for the work that I do, especially when spending hours behind my computer. I am glad that I have found a partner that takes eye health as serious as I take human health. After all, you've only got one body! And although I've got 2 eyeballs, my preference goes out to having both functioning properly.
Mestrini Optics & Optometry has taken care of my eyes for a couple of years now and I'm happy and proud to announce that they will be the ones in charge of my eyes for the next years. Taking eye care to the next level, in vision and style. Many more reports to read, more books & blogs to write. Definitely more outdoor playing with my boys to be done and shining, in the sun, I suppose....
Stay tuned and enjoy health!
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*DISCLAIMER - If you are suffering form eye complaints, like the ones described above, please consult a doctor to get to a valid diagnosis. Never draw conclusions based on the info you read here, because there might be a different cause for your complaints!
1. Eisenhauer, B., Natoli, S., Liew, G., & Flood, V. M. (2017). Lutein and Zeaxanthin-Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection. Nutrients, 9(2), 120. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9020120
2. NIH study provides clarity on supplements for protection against blinding eye disease - https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-provides-clarity-supplements-protection-against-blinding-eye-disease
3. Hegsted, D. M., McGandy, R. B., Myers, M. L., & Stare, F. J. (1965). Quantitative effects of dietary fat on serum cholesterol in man. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 17(5), 281–295. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/17.5.281
4. Natoli, S., Markovic, T., Lim, D., Noakes, M. and Kostner, K. (2007), Unscrambling the research: Eggs, serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease. Nutrition & Dietetics, 64: 105-111. doi:10.1111/j.1747-0080.2007.00093.x
5. Roberts, J. E., & Dennison, J. (2015). The Photobiology of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Eye. Journal of ophthalmology, 2015, 687173. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/687173
6. Ma, L., Dou, H. L., Wu, Y. Q., Huang, Y. M., Huang, Y. B., Xu, X. R., Zou, Z. Y., & Lin, X. M. (2012). Lutein and zeaxanthin intake and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The British journal of nutrition, 107(3), 350–359. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114511004260
7. Vu, H. T., Robman, L., Hodge, A., McCarty, C. A., & Taylor, H. R. (2006). Lutein and zeaxanthin and the risk of cataract: the Melbourne visual impairment project. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 47(9), 3783–3786. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.05-0587
8. Muriach, M., Bosch-Morell, F., Alexander, G., Blomhoff, R., Barcia, J., Arnal, E., Almansa, I., Romero, F. J., & Miranda, M. (2006). Lutein effect on retina and hippocampus of diabetic mice. Free radical biology & medicine, 41(6), 979–984. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.06.023