The right precautions and foods help protect children’s eyes

Individuals who do not eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day are five to 13 times more likely to develop cataracts.

Individuals who do not eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day are five to 13 times more likely to develop cataracts.

by Robyn Mulia — 

While almost everyone knows that sunglasses protect their eyes from the glaring sun, many do not know that eating healthy fruits and vegetables protects your vision, long-term. Providing children with fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks provides necessary antioxidants to prevent future eye problems.

Protect your sunglass-toting kids by offering tasty snacks of cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potato and yams. These foods are rich in beta-carotene, which is essential for maintaining human vision. Also important are dark, leafy vegetables such as collards, kale, mustard greens and spinach because they not only contain beta-carotene, but also are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the central retina which overlays the macula where color and central vision are processed, and are the only carotenoids present in human serum.

Healthy eating in childhood reduces risks of vision problems such as cataracts. Individuals who do not eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day are five to 13 times more likely to develop cataracts. Insufficient dietary vitamin C intake also dramatically increases cataract risk four to 11 times.

A study at Harvard Medical School in Boston surveyed 50,828 nurses and found women who consumed spinach five or more times per week, as well as those who took vitamin C supplements for 10 years or more, reduced their risk of cataract extraction by more than 45 percent. Although other carotenoids in spinach could have been at work, this study suggests the benefits of dietary lutein and zeaxanthin.

 

Robyn Mulia is with the public relations department for the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Tempe, Ariz. 480-970-000. www.scnm.edu.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 5, October/November 2005.

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