About 250 million people around the world have mild to serious vision loss. Did you know that the health of your eyes is directly connected to the health of your heart and blood vessels? What you eat and drink can have a lasting impact on both your cardiovascular health and your vision.
BREAD AND PASTA
Researchers have linked simple carbohydrates, like those found in white bread and pasta, with a higher chance of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss for older adults. The reason: Your body digests this type of carbohydrate quickly. This causes a spike in blood sugar. To prevent this, health experts suggest that you swap white bread and pasta for whole-grain.
Hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats are loaded with sodium. This salt spike can eventually lead to high blood pressure (hypertension). In your eyes, this may cause:
- Hypertensive retinopathy, blood vessel damage that causes blurred vision or vision loss.
- Choroidopathy, a buildup of fluid beneath the retina.
- Neuropathy, a blockage of blood flow that kills nerves and causes vision loss.
Try to limit your sodium to 2,300 milligrams or less a day.
Deep-fried foods cooked in trans fats raise your LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) “bad” cholesterol levels and could lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. They also create molecules called free radicals that can damage and kill cells. This all connects to eye disease — AMD and diabetic retinopathy. Fight back against free radicals by eating fruits and veggies full of vitamin C like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and red bell peppers.
A landmark study 30 years ago linked too much linoleic acid, a type of unsaturated fat, with a higher chance of AMD. You can find it in these cooking oils: Safflower, Sunflower, Corn, Soybean, Sesame.
Health experts suggest cooking oils with less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Stay away from the ones with hydrogenated oils and trans fats.
READY TO EAT FOODS
Prepackaged foods — things like soup, tomato sauce, and canned goods — often have high amounts of sodium, up to 75% of the suggested amount. Eating less of these foods can lower your chance of high blood pressure and related eye problems. When you shop, look for “low sodium” or “no salt added” versions of your favorite foods. Add your own spices and herbs for a natural flavor boost.
CAFFEINE: The caffeine in your morning cup of coffee or tea may raise the pressure inside your eye, or intraocular pressure (IOP). Studies had it that pressure goes up in people with glaucoma or ocular hypertension (OHT) and these people are at higher risk if they consume lots of caffeine. IOP that’s too high can cause vision loss and blindness.