While many of us are aware that we should have our cholesterol levels checked regularly and that it is important to visit the skin doctor every so often to make sure that our skin has not been exposed to too much sun, very few of us consider how important our eye health is. In fact, when was the last time you had your eyes checked? If you had to think about it, chances are it has been a little too long and at the start of Macular Degeneration Week it is a timely reminder that a simple eye check can go a long way in helping to preserve our sight long term.
More than a million Australians suffer from Macular Degeneration, the name given to a group of degenerative diseases that cause progressive, painless loss of central vision starting in the retina and affecting everyday activities like reading, driving and the ability to recognise familiar faces. Although there is no cure for MD, there are a number of treatment options that can slow down its progression, depending on the stage and type of the disease (wet, dry, and other forms). The earlier the disease is detected, the more vision you are likely to retain.
One of the most powerful things you can do on a daily basis to preserve your eye health long term is to ensure your diet is packed full of the key nutrient rich foods show to help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. Ideally we need to target these foods in our diet most days, and not only will our eyes benefit but also our blood glucose levels and levels of inflammation long term.
Kale, spinach, peas, dark lettuce, Brussel sprouts and broccoli are packed with a couple of key antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin which are found in high concentrations in a healthy macula. Aim to include at least ½ – 1 cup of leafy greens in your diet daily and remember that cooking your veges in a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil will help to enhance nutrient absorption.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds including walnuts, Brazil nuts, pepitas and almonds are good sources of Vitamin E, zinc, selenium and omega 3 fats, all of which have been linked to eye health. Simply grabbing a handful (15-20) of mixed nuts and seeds every day will ensure you tick a number of these nutrient boxes.
Sardines, salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel and trout are all packed full of omega 3 fats, the type of fat which has a powerful anti-inflammatory role in the body. For good health and good eye health specifically aim to include oily fish in your diet 2-3 x every week.
Brightly Coloured Fruits
The brighter the colour of the fruit, the higher its nutrient content is likely to be and orange, kiwi fruit and berries in particular are packed fill of Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. Aim to eat at least 1 piece of brightly coloured fruit each day.
Bliss Balls recipe
● 175g mixed nut/seed spread
● Approx 10 dates
● 1/2 cup dried blueberries
● 1/2 cup dried cranberries
● 1/3 cup pepitas
● 2 tbsp honey
● 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
● Coconut for rolling
1. Place all ingredients (excluding coconut) in a food processor and blend to combine.
2. Using a tablespoon, roll into balls.
3. Roll in coconut then place in the fridge for up to an hour to firm up.
MD is relatively simple to detect with a macula exam and the use of Digital Retinal Photography (DRP) that helps optometrists detect the early signs of MD. DRP is offered free of charge at all Specsavers stores as part of every standard eye test, and uses sophisticated equipment to produce a high resolution photograph of the retina, optic nerve and blood vessels. Whilst there is currently no cure, there are a number of treatment options that can potentially stem the progress of the disease but it’s essential to catch it early.
Specsavers has 308 stores in Australia. At each of our stores, we offer free Digital RetinalPhotography with every standard eye test. Digital Retinal Photography is a powerful tool that allows optometrists to screen for abnormalities, assisting with the early detection of diseases including diabetes, macular degeneration and glaucoma. At Specsavers, we believe Australians deserve access to this advanced technology, which is why unlike some optometrists, we don’t charge extra for it.