If you want to see spicy, you should eat carrots. A credo that persists even today in the minds of many consumers. One possible reason: It used to be thought that the macula lutea – the site of the sharpest vision – is made up of a pigment that beta-carotene is responsible for forming. The latter is also known to be contained in carrots.
Meanwhile, the opinion of medicine has changed in this regard. The pigment of the macula lutea consists of lutein (a carotenoid, which is also approved as a food coloring) and zeaxanthin (also an orange xanthophyll). Both act as filters in the eye – thus they have a protective function. The problem: The macula lutea is the starting point for various eye diseases that can cause considerable problems for you as a patient. Macular degeneration is one of the most common eye diseases in Germany. But it does not necessarily have to be drug therapies that can play a role in this context. Studies at the University of Jena suggest that your diet can certainly play a role.
Carotenoids and vitamins in vegetables
One reason may be that various substances involved in building and maintaining the function of the eye are not themselves formed by the body. By way of example, vitamin A should be mentioned here. But the vitamins C and E strengthen the eye health.
Different substances that need to be externally applied to your body seem to have an essential role in eye health. This almost automatically puts the focus on nutrition. Take, for example, the vitamin A. The latter is among others in beef and poultry liver, carrots, spinach, kale or yolk. Dark vegetables – which include spinach, kale, and broccoli – have a very different benefit to your eyes. Because in these vegetables significant amounts of the already known carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are included.
The well-known for its antioxidant effect vitamin E, however, is among other things in cereals such as wheat, sunflower seeds, and olive oil contained. In combination with vitamin C, it protects the eye from degenerative tendencies (through the action of free radicals) and thus prevents cataracts – cataracts. Especially against the background of macular degeneration, studies from the USA also indicate that omega-3 fatty acids can also develop a positive effect (for example, they are contained in fish). Here are the most important facts :
- Lutein-containing foods could have a positive effect on macular development
- Vitamins A, C, and E may also be useful in moderation (adequate in food)
- Effects of nutrition on the eye are still not fully understood
Deficiency or overdose – a fine line
Insights into the importance of minerals and vitamins for eye health have a positive effect – consumers pay more attention to their diet. As a rule, a balanced composition of the diet is sufficient to cover the need for vitamins. However, certain high-risk groups need larger doses – such as those with higher alcohol consumption or smokers. But even if you are healthy, you want to protect yourself – and therefore quickly access nutritional supplements.
The problem: Different vitamins are counterproductive in too high dosages. Vitamin A, for example, can lead to a headache, nausea, vomiting – and even osteoporosis in case of overdose. On the other hand, chronic overdosage of vitamin B6 can lead to deposits in the soft tissue and nerve damage. The handle on high-dose dietary supplements should, therefore, be treated with some caution.
By the way: A comparable influence of the nutrition – as with the emergence of the (age-related) macular degeneration – can so far not conclusively prove for many other eye diseases. It also needs to consider how personal risk factors (tobacco use, obesity, diabetes) adversely affect your eye health – and how you can work long-term on those risk factors to stay focused for a long time.