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Three types of food to avoid to protect eyes from long-term damage

Eye health: Nutritionist reveals foods that protect your eyes

It may seem as if the health of our eyes is beyond our control with factors such as genetics and age often contributing to whether or not we need glasses.

Actually a number of lifestyle factors can also influence how healthy they are and how good our eyesight is.

Diet is one such lifestyle factor with certain foods shown to improve or reduce visibility.

With this in mind Max Halford, clinical lead for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more.

He shared a list of foods to avoid because of their potential to damage your eyes.

READ MORE Warning sign around your eyes could point to high cholesterol

Processed carbohydrates

Diets high in processed carbohydrates can lead to vascular disease and this in turn can affect the good functioning of our eyes, said Halford.

This was backed by a study, published in Nutrients journal this year, which found that eating a high-carbohydrate diet is linked to several vascular diseases – any conditions that affect your circulatory system.

The study said: “Research suggests that blood lipid profiles, which are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, are influenced by carbohydrate intake.

“A high-carbohydrate diet may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and various vascular diseases, ultimately leading to death.”

Retinal vascular disease are conditions affecting the circulation at the back of the eye, which can lead to vision loss.

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They can be triggered by vascular problems as well as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Junk food

Halford said junk food high in saturated fats that can block the fine retinal vessels are not considered healthy eating although small amounts of saturated fats may be helpful as a part of a balanced healthy diet.

Saturated fats to avoid include:

  • Processed and fatty meats
  • Butter, lard and cheese
  • Cakes and biscuits
  • Chocolate
  • Pastries.

Foods high in salt

Foods high in sodium can lead to raising of blood pressure,” said Halford.

He added: “High blood pressure can have a detrimental effect on our long-term eye health.”

The Mayo Clinic says: “High blood pressure can damage the tiny, delicate blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes.”

This can cause:

  • Damage to the blood vessels in the retina (retinopathy)
  • Fluid build-up under the retina (choroidopathy)
  • Nerve damage (optic neuropathy).

According to the British Heart Foundation, foods consumed in the UK that contain the most salt include:

  • Processed meat
  • Bread
  • Pasta, rice and pizza
  • Condiments
  • Cheese
  • Biscuits, cakes and pastries.

Halford also warned that foods that can increase your risk for stroke or diabetes can affect your eyes.

“Foods high in bad cholesterol can lead to clogging of your arteries and increase your risk factors for a stroke,” he said.

“Strokes can and do affect vision for some patients depending on which part of their brain is affected so taking care of what you eat is vital.

“Any foods associated with type 2 diabetes are to be avoided such as processed carbohydrates, meats high in fat, full fat dairy products, confectionery and desserts high in sugar, and sweet fizzy drinks.

“Type 2 diabetes can affect your eyesight as it can cause the fine blood vessels in the retina to become damaged and leak, this in turn can lead to retinal changes and vision loss.”

If you have any concerns about your eyesight you should speak to an optician.

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  • Posted on August 2, 2023