Maintaining healthy eyes is one of the most important considerations as a person ages. This is because age-related eye disorders are the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness in Australia. These disorders include cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. The major risk factors for age-related eye disorders include smoking, family history and increasing age. Research shows that dietary and lifestyle factors such as antioxidant intake, the types of fats you eat, omega-3 intake, glycemic index and adequate intake of key vitamins and minerals all play an important role in the development and progression of some of these disorders including macular degeneration and cataracts. Poorly controlled diabetes can also lead to poor eye health with a high risk of developing an eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy.
Antioxidants and Eye Disease
Lutein and zeaxanthin are the two primary antioxidants found in the macular region of the retina. As the retina suffers progressive oxidative damage with age, it is thought that lutein and zeaxanthin may play a protective role in the prevention of eye disease.
Eggs contain both of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, with one serve* of eggs containing around 530mcg. It has been shown that lutein and zeaxanthin from eggs is better absorbed by the body than from plant sources (like spinach and corn), making eggs an important contributor to overall intakes.
Omega-3, Fats and Eye Health
The omega 3 fat, docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA for short, is a major part of the retina of the eye. While this is yet to be fully confirmed, having an adequate intake of DHA may help protect the eye from retinal damage.
In addition to fish, other sources of omega-3 fats include walnuts, canola oil, linseeds and eggs. Eggs are one of only a few foods to contain the same types of omega-3s found in fish, including DHA. A low saturated fat diet is also recommended for all people for optimal health. Recently the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) asserted that taking a dose of 250 milligrams of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA each day, can make an important contribution towards maintaining vision.
Other Nutrients in Eggs that are good for eye health
Eggs contain a range of nutrients and antioxidants that have been shown to contribute to long-term eye health. Eggs can therefore be enjoyed regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle that also includes the following:
- Smoking avoidance
- Enjoying 1-2 fish meals per week
- Eating other foods rich in carotenoids such as dark green and orange/yellow fruit and vegetables daily
- Reducing dietary sources of saturated fat
- Exercising regularly to control body weight and blood pressure
- Reducing the glycaemic index of the diet
- If overweight, aiming for weight loss to assist with controlling blood glucose levels
- For people with type 2 diabetes, achieving and maintaining optimal blood glucose and blood fat levels.