How many hours do you spend in front of a digital screen? Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours staring at a digital screen. Studies suggest that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device.
Did you know a healthy diet is important for maintaining healthy vision? Eye health is influenced by genetic deposition; however, nutrition and lifestyle play a major role. As we age, our eyes can start to deteriorate due to a combination of nutritional deficiencies, oxidative stress, harsh sunlight and even electronic devices. Many eye diseases are however preventable and nutrients can prevent, delay and regenerate your eyes from a diseased state.
Beware of blue light
Stepping into the sunlight or using an electronic device, exposes your eyes to light rays. Most people realise sun rays can damage the skin, however anything electronic can emit rays too. Blue light is the portion of visible light with the shortest wavelength and the highest energy level. Sources of blue light include the sun, digital screens (TVs, computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets), electronic devices, and fluorescent and LED lighting.
As an adult, our eyes become ineffective at blocking blue light which can damage the retina and this is responsible for blurred vision and eye strain that we feel when looking at devices for too long. If looking after your eyes is not yet on your radar, then consider these easy techniques to reduce your risk of any type of long term eye damage or degradation
- Rest your eyes frequently
- Decrease digital device time
- Ensure you are including enough eye protecting nutrients in your diet
Don’t wait until you realise you need to hold that menu further away or rely on bigger font sizes than you were used to for reading. These 3 tips are easy to do and will assist a healthier lifestyle too.
Eat more antioxidants
Eye health can deteriorate due to oxidative stress in your everyday environment. Free radicals form due to exposure to chemicals, radiation (including blue light) and even natural bodily processes. Consuming foods high in antioxidants can combat oxidative effects, both protecting and regenerating the body. Phytonutrients are plant based nutrients important for human health and are filled with antioxidants. Some of the most common phytonutrients are carotenoids and these are what give fruits and vegetables their bright colour. The colour of a food does not mean that it only contains one phytonutrient, however it should be seen as a helpful guide; eating a rainbow of foods not only brightens your plate, but will brighten your vision too.
Boost your antioxidant intake by making one of our favourite green smoothie recipes, have in the morning or put it in a glass jar to take with you to work.
Creamy green smoothie (serves 2)
✓ 1 pear
✓ 1 banana
✓ 1 ½ cups of spinach or silver beet
✓ 1 tbsp Good Health Chia Seeds
✓ 2 cups coconut water or filter water
✓ ½ ripe avocado
✓ Ice (optional)
Place all ingredients (except chia seeds) into the blender and blend until smooth. Add chia seeds and add water if you like a runnier consistency.
What carrots and eye health have in common
Orange foods such as carrots have been linked with increased eye health, as the orange pigment is high in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a high source of Vitamin A which helps the retina and photoreceptors to function properly. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common causes of blindness in the world; increasing your Vitamin A may lower your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and other vision problems later in life. As a vital component of your immune system, Vitamin A can also help fight off eye infections such as conjunctivitis. Vitamin A is only found in animal derived foods such as liver, egg yolk and dairy products, however the body can convert plant-based carotenoids found in carrots, kumara and kale into vitamin A.
Berries that support your eye health
Food with a blue/purple pigment have a high anthocyanin content; a flavonoid that supports blood vessels. Anthocyanins strengthen capillaries and maintain healthy blood circulation helping to prevent bloodshot eyes and increase night vision. Furthermore, they provide support against eyestrain caused from reading, driving and electronic use. Berries such as blueberries, bilberries, cherries and blackberries are filled with anthocyanins and the antioxidative vitamin C; these work together to support diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and even diabetic retinopathy. The concentration of vitamin C is higher in the outermost section of our eye than any other body fluid. This area helps maintain shape and protect structure within the eye. Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits, berries, kiwifruit and broccoli and levels are proportional to dietary intake.
Most importantly, increase your leafy greens
Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow carotenoid antioxidants known as macular pigments, they are the only carotenoids concentrated within the macula, the central part of the retina. Like a natural sunscreen, they protect the retina from blue light, which is the leading cause of macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin retina levels are also proportional to dietary intake and so increasing your dark leafy greens will ensure better protection. As carotenoids are better absorbed with fat, adding avocado or olive oil to a leafy green salad can go a long way to aid absorption and the high carotenoid and fat properties of egg yolks make it one of the best sources.
Minerals for eye health
Minerals zinc, selenium and chromium are vital for eye function and help to prevent damage to the eyes. Eyes contain high levels of zinc which is involved in the formation of the retina. Zinc is required for optimal functioning of the optic nerve and can slow down macular deterioration which in turn may help to prevent loss of vision. Zinc is found in foods such as beef, mussels, chickpeas and other beans. As a trace mineral, we need only a small amount in our bodies however it is important to eat foods high in zinc to decrease likelihood of developing eye diseases. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium, and as they are high in this trace mineral you can easily get all the selenium needed from eating just 1-2 brazil nuts per day. Chromium is found in whole grains such as in brown rice, whole-grain breads, and in brewers’ yeast products such as marmite; try marmite on a whole grain cracker for a mineral filled snack during the day.
Many eye diseases are preventable; enjoying a colourful diet and taking a break from electronic devices can avoid, delay and decrease symptoms. Good Health offers a range of products with powerful combinations to support eye health caused by environmental or age related factors. These are simple steps you can take to ensure you have the nutrients, to see well for a healthy future.