Could your lifestyle be having a negative impact on your eyes?


You might not realise it, but specific elements of your lifestyle such as diet, the amount you sleep and smoking can all affect your eye health.

Antioxidants and other important nutrients can help maintain eye health. The most common ones are beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, omega-3 oils, zinc, and vitamins A, C, D and E.

Beta-carotene can help to reduce the progression of macular degeneration and is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and butternut squash.

Bioflavonoids are thought to help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration. The best sources are tea, red wine, citrus fruits, berries and soy products.

Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce macular degeneration and incidences of dry eye. They’re found in abundance in oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts.

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Zinc reduces the risk of night blindness when combined with Vitamin A, and may also protect against the progression of macular degeneration. Oysters, beef, and dark turkey meat are all great sources of zinc.

Vitamin A is key to protecting against night blindness and dry eyes. There are high levels in eggs, butter, milk, and beef or chicken liver.

Vitamin C can help to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. It is found in a wide variety of foods including sweet peppers, kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges and cantaloupe melons.

Vitamin D, found in salmon, sardines, mackerel, milk, and fortified orange juice, provides health benefits that reduce the risk of macular degeneration.

Vitamin E, when combined with Vitamin C, may reduce the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration. The richest sources of Vitamin E are nuts, seeds, cereal grains and olive oil.

As well as eating a healthy diet, it’s important to maintain an appropriate weight as overweight individuals are at an increased risk of suffering poor eye health. Excess weight is linked with heightened incidences of strokes, heart disease and high blood pressure. All of these affect the blood vessels in the body and can consequently reduce blood flow to the eyes.

The multiple health risks associated with smoking also extend to the eyes. The chemicals in cigarettes damage blood vessels in the body, causing them to harden and constrict. The effect of this is reduced blood flow around the body, including to the eyes, which over time contributes to lasting damage, significant vision loss or even blindness. Macular degeneration, cataracts and dry eye are all more likely to develop in smokers compared to non-smokers.

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you are more at risk of macular degeneration because of the harmful effects of the UV rays from the sun. Blue visible light – the blue in the rainbow – is particularly harmful so make sure you wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Children are most at risk followed by females, especially those with light coloured eyes.

If you would like any more information about lifestyle factors that can affect your eye health, or to book an eye appointment at The Vision Clinic, please call 0208 907 5270 or email us on