By Melissa Parkes
For many of us it is unthinkable to live without the ability to see. We wake up everyday, open our eyes and are surrounded by colours and shapes. It only when these colours and shapes become blurry that the alarm bells start to ring – lets stop taking one of our most magical organs for granted.
Here are 5 tips, shared by experts, to help protect and prevent eyesight damage…
1. Eye Breaks?
“Bloodshot eyes may simply be a result of eyestrain. If you do a lot of computer work or other ‘close’ work, then make sure you’re giving your eyes a break every now and then – at least for 5-10 minutes once an hour, and preferably looking away and into the distance every 15 minutes or so. If you’re experiencing eyestrain it can also be worth having an eye test to see if you need glasses or to have your prescription changed,” explains Nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
2. The most common cause of blindness
“The eyes are particularly prone to damage from diabetes, making it the most common cause of blindness in those of working age. Raised glucose levels damage the small blood vessels in the back of the eye (retina) resulting in poor blood flow and leakage of blood and fluid into the surrounding tissues (diabetic retinopathy). Small blood vessels in the retina of the eye are easily viewed using an instrument known as an ophthalmoscope. In someone with retinal damage due to diabetes (known as diabetic retinopathy) the small blood vessels in the back of the eye may show abnormalities such as thickening, small ‘blow-outs’ and leaking of fluid or even blood into the surrounding tissues. The blood vessels may resemble a string of beads, or form abnormal loops and branching. Delicate new blood vessels may also grow into the retina in response to low oxygen levels. These changes can reduce vision and lead to blindness, while proliferation of new blood vessels increases the risk of glaucoma by increasing pressure within the eyes. A UK study involving 7.7 million people found that in those with type 2 diabetes, 28.3% had evidence of diabetic retinopathy,” explains Dr Sarah Brewer, working in association with the type 2 diabetes supplement, CuraLin (www.curalife.co).
“Good glucose control can prevent these eye problems, yet 80% of people with diabetes develop some form of eye complication after having had diabetes for more than 20 years. Everyone with diabetes should have their retinas photographed at least a yearly looking for signs of damage, and referral to a hospital eye clinic if necessary.”
Top Tip: To help prevent a 20-year diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, think about the positive changes that you can do. “If you have type 2 diabetes, it is important to ensure your glucose levels remain well controlled. In some cases the condition can be reversed by losing excess weight, diet and exercise. Herbal medicines such as CuraLin (£59.00, www.curalife.co), which uses natural ayurvedic ingredients to help balance your blood sugar profile, can also help,” adds Dr Sarah Brewer.
3. Half of adults don’t know that diet can affect eye health
A recent study has found that half of UK adults have no idea that your diet can affect your eyesight and fewer than one in 10 recognise zinc as being important for the maintenance of health eyes.
Nutritionist Cassandra Barns recommends sunflowers. “We all love sunflowers and their bright yellow petals are a treat for the eyes! Sunflower seeds not only provide a high quality, great tasting, protein, they are also rich in magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc and iron. Natures plus Organic Sunflower protein (£25.70, www.naturesplus.com) contains all the 9 essential amino acids with a BCAA content of almost 20% making it a perfect choice for healthy muscles, nitric oxide production and strength. In fact, Sunflower seeds are the only vegan source of BCAA!”
Fun Fact: Did you know that each eye has six muscles that control its movement?
4. Is there any truth behind the ‘carrot a day’ saying?
“There may be some truth in the saying ‘carrots can make you see in the dark’. Due to their high vitamin A content, they can help to improve vision. This critical vitamin plays a role with preventing the formation of cataracts and even macular degeneration which are both leading cause of blindness and vision impairment. In addition, carrots also come with an antioxidant called lutein which have been found to increase pigment density in the macular (near the retina of the eye). The greater the density of the retina, the lower the risk of macular degeneration,” explains Leading London Nutritionist, Lily Soutter (www.lilysoutternutrition.com)
5. Last, but not least, regular checks are a must
“If our sight is weak or we wear glasses, regular checks are essential. Straining our eyes because of an undetected sight problem, or a wrong pair of glasses can cause headaches and fatigue,” explains Nutritionist at Natures Plus, Martina Della Vedova (www.naturesplus.co.uk).