Bright Eyes; OK, So Carrots Might Not Make You See in the Dark, but What You Eat Could Have More Effect on Your Eyesight Than You Think

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN CARROLL

SCIENTISTS last week revealed that the humble vegetable spinach may provide a cure for blindness.

Experts at a laboratory in Tennessee, USA, are currently working on a technique to extract light-absorbing pigments from the leafy green veg.

The pigments will then be injected into nerve cells in the retina of those whose vision is severely impaired by conditions such as macular degeneration.

This disease of the retina is one of the most common causes of blindness in Britain.

It affects the rods and cones, the photoreceptor cells at the back of the retina, while the nerve cells in front of them usually remain intact.

And tests indicate that injections of spinach pigment will make these nerve cells kick into action when struck by light, enabling sufferers to see again.

This technique will work by taking advantage of photosynthesis - the natural process plants use to make food from sunlight.

The researchers stress, however, that it will restore only limited vision - for instance, sufferers may still be colour-blind.

But this isn't the only way in which certain foods can help boost eyesight. If you want to stay keen-eyed, you should eat plenty of the following:

Tomatoes

Packed with the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes help prevent or delay two of the most common age-related eyesight problems, macular degeneration and cataracts. A cataract is a cloudy spot on the part of the eye called the lens which dims the vision and increases glare.

Antioxidants prevent the cell damage caused by free radicals. These attack the whole body but can cause sight problems as the eyes are particularly sensitive.

Oranges and peppers

Both are a great source of vitamin C and the more of this you eat the less likely you are to need cataract surgery.

This is one of the findings from the ongoing Harvard Nurses' Health Study which has been tracking the health and lifestyles of 120,000 female nurses since 1972. Those with diets high in vitamin C escaped developing cataracts so severe an operation was needed. …