The two colours you should eat to protect your eyesight – expert

Professor: Stem cell treatment could cure macular degeneration

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As we age, maintaining good eye health becomes even more important. While the quality of our eyesight might be out of our control, there are things we can do to protect it as best as possible. Diet is one way to do this.

Clinical lead for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, Max Halford, spoke with to explain more.

He said: “Unfortunately no food will improve your eyesight but there are certain foods that can have protective qualities.”

He recommended eating bright red or dark green foods to protect your eyes.

“A good adage is ‘if it’s bright red or dark green, eat it’ as it may be beneficial to the long term health of your eyes,” he said.

This includes leafy greens such as kale, and red peppers.

Mr Halford said: “A healthy balanced diet should contain all the nutrients and minerals your eyes need to stay as healthy as possible.

“Leafy greens, especially curly kale, are high in antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin (termed carotenoids).

“It is thought these can protect the retina from harmful light and in particular the macula area at the back of the eye against wear and tear.

“This in turn can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

“Red peppers are again high in lutein and have protective qualities as above.”

What does the research say?

The benefits of lutein on eyesight are widely documented.

One study, published in Nutrients journal in 2018, said: “Lutein is a carotenoid with reported anti-inflammatory properties.

“A large body of evidence shows that lutein has several beneficial effects, especially on eye health.

“In particular, lutein is known to improve or even prevent age-related macular disease which is the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment.

“Furthermore, many studies have reported that lutein may also have positive effects in different clinical conditions, thus ameliorating cognitive function, decreasing the risk of cancer, and improving measures of cardiovascular health.”

Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a fairly common condition that affects the middle part of your vision.

While it does not cause total vision loss, it makes everyday tasks such as reading difficult.

According to the NHS, the first symptom of AMD is often a blurred or distorted area in your vision.

The health service says: “If it gets worse, you might struggle to see anything in the middle of your vision.”

Other symptoms include:

  • Seeing straight lines as wavy or crooked
  • Objects looking smaller than normal
  • Colours seeming less bright than they used to
  • Seeing things that are not there (hallucinations).

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