The eye also referred to as “window to the soul” is one of the most prominent and sensitive sense organs of the human body. Its importance can be judged from the fact that 50% of the brain’s functioning is geared towards vision and related activities. In today’s world with long screen time, it’s become even more important to take proper care of one of the most sensitive part of our body.
Dr Sameer Kaushal- Head- Department of Opthalmology, Artemis Hospital says that whether its modern system of medicine, Ayurveda or any other traditional system of medicine, good nutrition has always been considered is an important pillar for healthy body and mind. And eye health is no exception. We’ve all heard stories about the importance of carrot and other Vitamin A rich foods for health of the eye. However, in today’s fast-paced life, these aspects are frequently ignored. And this article is aimed to re-emphasise the role of nutrition to maintain healthy eyes.
Before talking about individual elements of diet important for eyes, it’s important to understand the difference between undernutrition and overnutrition. The ultimate aim is to have a well balanced healthy diet that prevents deficiency of any nutrient. A deficiency of Vitamin A for example can be disastrous for the eye even to the point of total vision loss. However, an overdose of Vitamin A has no advantage for the body or the eye. It’s not that eating lots of carrots can rid you of need for glasses. Intake of required nutrition can help in warding off the impairment. Following a healthy dietary regimen and taking proper care can help in maintaining our vision.
Irrespective of a person's age, vision can be retained, and many complications can be averted with proper diet and nutrition. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc reduce the risk of ocular diseases.
Omega-3 fatty acids
These are significant for enhancing eyesight and boost up retinal function. Fish, plant oils (flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil), eggs, nuts and seeds are packed with the acid. Lutein and zeaxanthin especially found in green leafy vegetables reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases. They give protection to eyes against harmful light rays.
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Vitamin C, an antioxidant found especially in citrus fruits lowers the risk of developing cataracts and helps in the growth of new eye cells. Further, it slows the development of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.
Another antioxidant Vitamin E protects eye cells from free radicals which are risky for tissues. This Vitamin is found in nuts, fortified cereals, and potatoes.
Vitamin A is mandatory for eyes and zinc plays the role of carrier of this nutritional element. Vitamin A is brought to retina from liver by zinc. Here, the vitamin produces protective pigment melanin. It also helps maintain light-sensing cells that convert light rays into colours and images. Further, it protects the eyes by keeping them moist. So, adequate supply of both the nutrients to the body is important. While carrot, broccoli, sweet potato are some of the food rich in Vitamin A; seeds, nuts and dairy products contain zinc in plenty.
Another important nutritional element, copper helps in the production of red blood cells and plays a key role in circulation through arteries. Hence, plenty of copper consumption is necessary. Copper rich foods include seafood, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, seeds, cashews, dark chocolate, etc.
Riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and thiamine (B1) are indispensable elements for eyes. Riboflavin and thiamine prevent the development of cataracts. Niacin protects eyes against glaucoma, the damage of the optic nerve. Sources of these vitamins are found in milk, fortified cereals, meat and fish, whole grains, mushrooms, peanuts, legumes, etc.
Deficiency of nutrients can cause ocular diseases. It can be very difficult to lead a life with reduced vision. One must try to avoid the situation. The food items mentioned above provide sufficient nutrition to prevent lesions because it is always said that ‘prevention is better than cure’.
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