It’s understandable that people doubt the true power of superfoods given the sheer number of often contradictory headlines we hear in the press. One minute, coffee is bad for you, the next it can help to prolong your life. The same can be said for the u-turn on red meat. But when it comes to eye health, it’s difficult to deny the overwhelming evidence that says superfoods can play a key role in protecting our eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common eye condition and one of the leading causes of vision loss among people age 50 and older in the western world.
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a painless eye condition that causes vision loss usually in both eyes. Although it does not cause total blindness, as the peripheral vision is not affected by AMD, it does cause vision to become increasingly blurred. The result is that colours are less vibrant, reading becomes difficult and faces are less easy to recognise. Currently, 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 suffer from AMD, while 3 in 10 over 75 are affected by the condition.
What causes age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is caused by a problem with a particular part of the eye, called the macula, which is the nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye. There are a number of different ways the macula can become damaged over time, one of which is the exposure to blue light.
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum that’s naturally occurring (it’s produced by the sun). Blue light has a higher frequency and very short wavelength, producing a higher amount of energy than other types of visible light. This energy means, over time, exposure to blue light can cause long term damage to our eyes.
The trouble is that as well as the sun, blue light is also produced by electronic devices, which many of us spend a considerable proportion of our lives staring at. Laptops, tablets and mobile phones all produce blue light. The macula in our eyes filters out this harmful blue light, but over time, it becomes damaged. The result is age-related macular degeneration, a condition that is currently on the rise.
How can superfoods help?
Thankfully, there are superfoods out there that can help to protect our eyes from the destructive power of blue light. This infographic shows some of the most powerful natural weapons we have in our arsenal to combat against age-related macular degeneration.
The key ingredients in these superfoods are lutein and zeaxanthin, two naturally occurring carotenoids that are found in highest quantity in green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and cress. In the largest study of its kind, it was found that those who eat a diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin are 40 percent less likely to suffer from age-related macular degeneration in later life. This once again proves the incredible power of superfoods and the role they have in helping us live a healthy, happy life.