This is a guest post by Tim Harwood of Treatmentsaver.com.
Our eye health as well as our general health is largely governed by what we eat and drink. In the same way that our body is made up of blood vessels, nerves and many different cells, the same is true of our eyes and they too are affected by our lifestyle.
Some of the most common eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts are caused to a large extent by the amount of free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are detrimental to the health of the eyes as they can lead to cellular damage. The best way to reduce the amount of free radicals in our body and also our eyes is by the intake of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are known to neutralise free radicals meaning they are no longer dangerous to the cells in our body.
Although cataracts can be easily treated by a simple surgical procedure, unfortunately things are not quite so simple for macular degeneration. The macular is probably the most important component of our eye as it is responsible for our very central vision. The macular is part of the retina at the back of eyes and is critical for important day to day tasks such as reading and checking sms messages. People with end stage macular degeneration are unable to read, write and find day to day tasks extremely difficult. Macular degeneration is caused by a slow degeneration of the macular cells and although age is the biggest cause, other environmental factors also play a role. In some instances macular degeneration can be treated by laser eye treatment but this is not often.
Where do free radicals come from?
Free radicals are produced as a result of natural cellular activity in the eye and they are sometimes purposefully created to fight off bacteria and viruses that are found in the eyes. In addition to this there are certain environmental factors which can also increase the amount of free radicals in our body such as such as smoking, drinking excessive alcohol and eating food with pesticides on them.
How can we reduce the amount of free radical in our eyes?
By avoiding known causes of free radicals such as smoking and heavy drinking, the amount of free radicals in our eyes can be significantly reduced. Eating organic foods with no pesticides is also recommended as is avoiding polluted and smoky environments.
In terms of our diet there are definitely certain foods that are known to help. Within our macular there are 2 naturally occurring anti-oxidants whose primary function is to neutralise any free radicals that they encounter. These anti-oxidants are called Lutein and Zeaxanthin and they are also found in a number of fruits and vegetables that we can incorporate into our diet. They are found in the highest concentrations in any green leafy vegetables such as Kale, spinach and green cabbage. Other vegetables such as broccoli and Zucchini also contain them, although the quantities are not as high. Although they are not found as much in fruits both oranges and lemons do contain small quantities of them. By increasing the amount of these foods in your diet you will raise your anti-oxidant levels in your macular and help slow down the effects of macular degeneration. It is important to realise however that this is in no way a cure for macular degeneration nor is it guaranteed to work but more and more Optometrists are now recommending that people with macular degeneration follow this advice. An increasing number of studies performed by Ophthalmologists have shown that increasing the amount of lutein and Zeaxanthin in our diets can in some cases slow down the progression of this potentially devastating eye disease.
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