Friday, 04 September 2015

Eat right to protect your sight

New Research Highlights a Clear Need for Vital Education on the Link Between Nutrition and Eye Health

• 60% of the British population is unaware that the foods we eat can affect eye health and one in five Brits incorrectly believe that what they eat can't affect their eye health at all
• More than half (52%) of Optometrists fear that convenient and processed foods will play a key part in the deterioration of the nation's eye health over the next 5-10 years
• 41% of people in the UK do not do anything to specifically take care of their eye health
• 75% have never even heard of some of the key nutrients that have been shown in studies to be beneficial to eye health
• 75% of people questioned would fall into at least one of the main risk factor groups for developing Age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developing world

We will be living longer than ever before and as with any other organ in our bodies, our eyes are also affected as we age.

Due to the significant ageing of the population, prevalence of degenerative diseases such as Cataract, Glaucoma, Dry Eye Syndrome and Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are on the rise and this is only predicted to get worse. The prevalence of AMD, which is already the leading cause of blindness in the developed world, is expected to increase by 50% by the year 2020. These conditions can cause not only severe discomfort, but can also cause irreversible damage and loss of vision, which can have a serious effect on our quality of life.

It has never been a more important time for people to understand the factors that have a detrimental effect on their eye health and understand what they can do to help maintain their eye health for as long as possible to help them see well into old age.

Although our eye sight is so important to us, A recent survey carried out by specialists in eye care Thea Pharmaceuticals showed that 41% of the population said they do not do anything to specifically care for their eyes and of those who said they did it included things like; washing their bed sheets regularly (29%), using eye drops (23%) or making sure they remove their makeup daily (20%).

Almost half (46%) of people feel that their eyes are affected by lack of sleep, 39% feel the effects of over exposure to electronic screens and 22% said they were effected by exposure to sunlight. Only 12% said they felt that personally poor diet affected their eyes.

This could be due to the fact that while 40% of people said they worry about their eye health, a third (33%) only worry about their eye health if they have symptoms so will only be more aware of the factors that can have an immediate effect on how the eyes are feeling.

However, Optometrists fear that an increase in convenient and processed foods will play a key factor in the deterioration of the nations eye health over the next 5-10 years. So how is it that 40% of the population doesn't know if their eye health can be affected by the foods they eat and one in five (20%) don't think it can be?


Not only did the study show that 95% of the population could be at risk of a deficiency in one or more vital nutrients, but 75% of the population had never even heard of some of the key eye friendly nutrients including Lutein, Zeaxanthin or Resveratrol.

It is therefore unsurprising that there was low awareness of which foods were best for helping to maintain good eye health. While more than half (53%) of the population associate eating carrots with keeping their eyes in good condition, only 26% would look to foods rich in Omega-3, such as mackerel, to help maintain optical health.

Christine Purslow, Professor of Optometry and medical director at Thea Pharmaceuticals who conducted the research comments:

"It is always a worry that while so many people consider sight so important, so few of us take effective, practical steps to help maintain eye health. As a nation, we are living longer meaning that we are expecting our eyes to remain healthy to maintain our sight for longer than ever before. Like any other part of our bodies, our eyes deteriorate with age and we are seeing age related conditions like Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world) and Glaucoma more now than ever before and this will only continue to rise. For several of these conditions there are no major symptoms to begin with and the patient may not know they are suffering until the deterioration has started and there are much fewer options for treatment. There is clearly still a lot that can and needs to be done to help educate the public on the effects that what we eat has on our long term eye health, both good and bad.

While 58% of people said they don't take health supplements, 44% said they would be encouraged to do so if they were recommended by a healthcare professional

Leading Dietitian Helen Bond BSc. (Hons) SRD, MBDA adds:

"Eating a healthy balanced diet plays a vital role for overall health but there is also evidence to show that good nutrition can help to keep eyes as healthy as they can be throughout a lifetime. A diet rich in the 4 key groups of nutrients including; vitamins and minerals C and E, zinc, selenium and copper, as well as carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, essential Omega 3 fats and the polyphenol resveratrol can give your eyes the best possible support to help maintain eye health for longer. But with today's modern and hectic lifestyles it can be difficult to get enough of the eye friendly nutrients needed through diet alone, this is where supplements can come in. Taking an eye health specific supplement can help bridge that gap and support a healthy balanced diet and ensure your eyes are getting all the nutrients they need.

For more expert advice and information on how nutrition can affect eye health and foods you can eat to boost your intake of eye friendly nutrients visit

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