Healthy Food Options For Growing Eyes

Healthy Food

Here was the heading that devastated our optometrists:

Boy nearly eats himself BLIND before mum discovers his poor diet was responsible for his declining vision 

  • Cian Moore, 14,  was losing his sight and no medical professional knew why
  • After watching TV program on treatment he and his mother flew to Sydney
  • Professor Stephanie Watson diagnosed Cian with Vitamin A deficiency
  • Cian was malnourished from his diet of chicken, potatoes, dry bread, Coke since he was 5
  • Vitamin A deficiency is the most common cause for blindness in the world
  • Warning: This article has some graphic images of his affected eye

As parents, we all know how fussy kids can be when it comes to eating healthily.  In an ideal world, our children would happily eat nutrient-rich food sources that are green, yellow and red, in order to meet the nutritional needs of their eyes (and body).   In reality, we know that kids prefer to eat.  Just go to any kids meal menu and you will see what the kids will be happy with.  The usual staple of chicken nuggets and chips or fish and chips are normally what keeps the little ones happy.  Just be aware that eating a balanced healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and protein right from childhood can eliminate the need for requiring nutrient supplements.

“Research has shown that providing right nutrition for growing children can prevent many types of eye diseases when we get older such as dry eyes, cataract and macular degeneration”, said Soojin Nam, Behavioural Optometrist, ‘There is a correlation with dry and gritty eyes and malnutrition.  Regular eye exams will ensure you get the right help sooner rather than later’

The essential nutrients for eye health and some of their common sources recommended by optometrists have been listed below.

Vitamin A

  • Prevents night blindness and dry eyes.
  • Sources: Eggs, cow’s milk, yoghurt and chicken liver.

Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Omega-3 fatty acids – plant based and oily fish based
  • Prevents dry eye syndrome and plays a role in the development of a healthy retina.
  • Sources: tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, trout, green vegetables, vegetable oils, and walnuts

Vitamin C

  • Lowers the risk of developing a cataract and slows down the progression of macular degeneration.
  • Sources: Oranges, green capsicum, kale, broccoli, strawberries and kiwi.

Vitamin D

  • Reduces the risk of macular degeneration and improves the health of retina.
  • Exposure to sunlight is the best source of vitamin D.
  • Food sources: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, milk; orange juice fortified with vitamin D.

Zinc

  • Prevents night blindness and macular degeneration by improving the health of retina.
  • Sources: eggs, oysters, crab legs, red meat, poultry, baked beans, and whole grains.

Vitamin E

  • Acts in conjunction with vitamin A to improve retinal health and avoid night blindness.
  • Sources: sweet potatoes, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, wheat germ oil, fortified cereals, vegetable oils, and peanut butter

Beta-carotene

  • Acts in conjunction with vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc to improve retinal health and prevent macular degeneration.
  • Sources: Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

  • May prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Sources: Spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, squash.

Significant Vitamin A deficiency, like the unfortunate condition Cian developed, is actually very uncommon in developed countries like Australia.   Only a handful of people have ever been diagnosed with this condition here.  It is much more common in third world countries where people have access to only a limited range of food types.  Nevertheless, mild deficiencies can still cause discomfort like dry eyes and blurry vision.  In any case, any type of visual symptom should be assessed by a qualified optometrist.

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