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Eating for healthy eyes

By Faye on 2016-09-19

Welcome to my first Blog.

For those of you who know me, you will know that I love to talk! I have dabbled in blog writing on a variety of my favourite topics, but my procrastination skills prevented me getting too far with them... so I’ve decided to combine two of my biggest loves – talking and eyes, with a “work-related” blog (okay there might be some rambling, I’ll try my best to stay on track!). My hope is to be able to inform and maybe entertain a little along the way!

A few weeks ago, the 7th series of The Great British Bake Off started on BBC 1. I have to confess to having never watched a single episode before - sorry Mum and Sophie (my sister).  However, after listening to many clients, family and friends talking about it I thought I’d give it a try and now I’m hooked! Watching this inspired me to get in the kitchen and channel my inner Mary far the most successful thing I have baked is blueberry and banana muffins; watch this space!

Faye's baking
(pink cases are mine, blue ones are for Tim!)

Baking from scratch got me thinking about what I’m eating and of course, being in the healthcare industry my brain automatically started thinking about what you eat and how it affects your body, and ultimately your eyes (eating is another of my loves, I’m always hungry!).

Without going in to too much doom and gloom we all know that eating too much of the wrong things can adversely affect our bodies – diabetes, heart disease, liver problems, high blood pressure, some cancers to name a few have all been associated with an unhealthy diet and lifestyles.

Whilst keeping fit and healthy, in addition to eating well, is good for your general health and wellbeing, a balanced diet also helps maintain healthy eyes and good vision, particularly as we mature (okay...I’ll say it, as we get older).

The AGE word is one of the main risk factors for eye conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, but more and more research is suggesting that antioxidants and other important nutrients may help slow these ageing process down, and omega-3 essential fatty acids can help with eye conditions like dry eye. I’ve seen an improvement in my dry eye symptoms since taking omega-3 supplements in addition to following my dry eye care routine.

So for a bit of science and education... Researchers in the age-related eye disease study (AREDS) reported in 2001 that a nutritional supplement called AREDS can reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. In 2006 the same research group continued (AREDS2) which looked to improve the original formulation. The outcome of AREDS2 suggested the following nutritional supplements to be the most helpful: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in the retina (the back of the eye) and lens (where cataracts occur) with evidence suggesting they act as natural antioxidants helping absorb damaging, high-energy blue and ultraviolet (UV) light. Omega-3s are made by marine algae and enriched in fish oil, hence the well documented health benefits of eating fish, such as cell repair.

To get back to eating... how can we get these nutrients from our diet? In general, advice tells us it’s best to obtain most nutrients through a healthy diet, including at least 2 servings of fish per week and plenty of colourful fruit and veg. Focusing (eye-joke almost!) on those recommended in the AREDS2 study:

Lutein and zeaxanthin: spinach, kale, turnip green, collard greens, squash
Omega-3s: salmon, mackerel and herring, freshly ground flaxseeds, walnuts
Vitamin C: sweet peppers (red or green), kale (again), strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe melon
Vitamin E: almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts
Zinc: oysters, beef, Dungeness crab (I’ve never heard of this before anyone tried it?!), turkey (dark meat).

I found this helpful infographic from Thea pharmaceuticals which illustrates some good foods to eat at a glance:

These nutrients can be found in specific Eye supplements if you don’t fancy them in your diet. Remember as with all vitamins and supplements it’s sensible to discuss with your doctor and/or optometrist before suddenly making changes, especially if you already take prescription medications. We are stockists of Macushield and Macushield gold – containing the recommended nutritional supplements advised by research and also mentioned on BBC2 Trust Me, I’m a Doctor (series 5 episode 2, link here for anyone interested in watching... )

As always if you have questions about your eye health or would like personal advice on your eyes and nutrition please call 01642 483611 and book in with myself, Angela or Tim. We are always happy to advise you. We have a helpful piece of equipment – the Topcon MPod – which can measure your macular pigment density. From this, we’ll be able to give advice on your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Whilst on the subject of a healthy lifestyle, does anyone else have a Fitbit? My optometrist mum (Angela) got one for her birthday recently and has been using it to clock up the miles in her bid to improve her health and fitness. So far she’s clocked up a good number of miles walking on her days off. Our frame and lens expert Chris is also a fan of walking and enjoyed some great walks over the summer. Our frame stylist, Emily, has just got back from her summer holidays and looks beautifully tanned (I’m a bit jealous!). Optometrist Tim (who is also my husband!), has got a new “toy” car – I’m sure you’ll hear more about this in  future blogs - and receptionist Lisa has had lots of fun with her gorgeous nieces and nephew during their school summer holidays.

Thanks for taking the time to read my first ‘Optically themed’ blog. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @SpecsLady_Faye or @candmoptom and like us on Facebook

Take Care, Eye Care (corny but I like it!)


Links to:
Healthy Eyes
Dry Eye
Macular Degeneration
Nutrition and the Eye
BBC2 Trust Me, I’m a Doctor