262012Apr

Eating for Good Eyesight

Next time that you prepare a meal, have a really good look at the foods you are eating. Doesn’t a tomato, with its juicy red chambers, look like a miniature heart? And a walnut like a wrinkly little brain? Is it coincidence that each of these food items is highly beneficial to the part of the body it resembles? Science thinks not.

Carrot slice and human eye

A case for the carrot

When it comes to your vision, all eyes should immediately focus on the humble carrot. Remember your mom telling you that eating carrots makes your eyes bright and shiny? Well, it seems she was onto something. Have a look at a cross-section slice of carrot and it practically looks back at you – the pupil, lines radiating from the centre and wavy patterns are almost identical to the human eye. And eating carrots reduces your risk of developing a range of eye problems, such as cataracts and Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), as well as sharpening your eyesight – especially your night vision.

Insight on eyecare super foods

Dr Jan Coetzee, optometrist at Eyecare Plus/Insight Optometrists in Indooroopilly, Brisbane, tells us exactly why our mothers were right. “Carrots enhance blood flow to the eyes and are packed with vitamin A and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene, also abundant in papaya, mango, beets and radish leaves, is converted to vitamin A by the body and is a very powerful antioxidant that lowers cancer risk,” says Dr Coetzee. “Vitamin A also keeps the cells in the corneal lining of your eye healthy and functioning smoothly, forming a ‘barrier’ that keeps out the bacteria, viruses or impurities responsible for a range of eye problems.” Aside from carrots, your eyes will also benefit from dark green leafy veg like spinach, bok choy and kale and antioxidant-rich, ‘bright’ foods like oranges, corn, peppers and red grapes. Fittingly, ‘eye-shaped’ nuts like pistachio (the inner green coating) and almonds are also excellent for eye health and wellness. “Ensure your overall diet is well-balanced as your body also needs certain amounts of fat, iron, and zinc and plenty of clean, pure water to ensure optimal eye health,” advises Dr Coetzee. “And don’t forget to exercise – it’s the foundation of good blood flow and naturally healing levels of oxygen in your body.”

Eye examinations

Dr Coetzee cautions that no matter how well you eat, you should ensure you go for regular eye examinations and screenings for common eye problems. “Australia has high levels of blindness due to eye problems like macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy,” says Dr Coetzee. “Many of these eye conditions can be prevented, halted or treated if they are picked up early, but devastating if left too late. With state-of-the-art technology like digital retinal photography and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), we are able to quickly pick up any eye problems and take immediate action.”

Bottom line

By eating for good eyesight, with nature as your guide, making sane lifestyle choices and taking maximum advantage of today’s intelligent optical technology you can ensure you are able to see clearly into your future for many years to come!

Information provided by Dr Jan Coetzee of Insight Optometrists, Indooroopilly (Brisbane, Queensland). Dr Coetzee holds a doctorate in optometry and is dedicated to raising awareness of eye health issues and providing high quality, protective eyewear. Insight Optometrists is also an accredited member of the Eyecare Plus group, a select collective of clinically-driven optometry practices across Australia. More info: www.insightoptom.com.au.