The Positive Effects of Nutrition and Exercise on One’s Vision
With the New Year comes many resolutions, including resolving to exercise more and eat better. While many individuals understand that nutrition and exercise play an important role in helping to prevent diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disorders, not many may be aware that these two elements have a significant impact on one’s vision as well. Dr. Sandy T. Feldman, a renowned ophthalmologist and corneal expert at Clearview Eye & Laser Center in San Diego, advises patients to examine their physical fitness and eating habits in order to achieve optimum vision.
“Many people may not realize that the same foods that are good for your heart and arteries are also beneficial for your eyesight,” said Dr. Feldman. “Foods such as spinach, kale, and broccoli—which contain lutein and zeaxanthin—have been known to help reduce the risk of cataracts. Lutein helps to protect the eyes by forming pigments in the macula, which help to filter out harmful wavelengths that can damage the eye. Likewise, vitamins C, E, and zinc have been known to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).”
As evidenced by studies conducted by Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University, there is a direct correlation between good nutrition, weight loss and maintenance, and healthy eyes. Eating a healthy diet enables individuals to maintain a healthy weight, which helps to reduce the risk of obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness in adults. “The ideal formula is the combination of both a healthy diet and exercise,” said Dr. Feldman. “Each component works hand-in-hand to help individuals become and stay healthy in all parts of the body.”
While nutrition has proven to be helpful in reducing the risk of vision-related disorders, similarly exercise has also been proven to help reduce the risk of eye conditions such as cataracts and AMD. Regular physical activity causes an increase in heart rate, which in turn helps the heart muscles to work more efficiently. The efficiency by which blood is pumped through the circulatory system helps to reduce pressure in the nerves, including the ocular nerve. Excess eye fluid pressure, or ocular nerve pressure, can lead to vision disorders and in extreme cases, irreversible blindness.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), approximately 22 million Americans age 40 and over have cataracts, while more than half of Americans will have cataracts by the time they reach the age of 80. The AAO also estimates that more than 2 million Americans age 50 and over suffer from advanced AMD.
Dr. Feldman advises patients to examine their exercise and eating habits, and make modifications if necessary, in order to protect their eyesight.