Leaf through: how to improve your vision

May 24, 2018

Moving from good to better eyesight

On June 30 of this year, international journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS) published breakthrough research conducted by European Research Council-funded Waterford. The research detailed the prospect of even sharper vision for those who already have good eyesight.

The main takeaway from the study referred to the revelation of marked improvements in vision among those who received specific dietary supplements during the course of a year.

The study, titled CREST (Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials), was conducted by the Macular Pigment Research Group at Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI). NRCI is based at Carriganore House in Waterford, and is part of the School of Health Sciences at Waterford Institute of Technology.

The CREST study involved 105 volunteers undergoing a complex test of vision over a 12-month period. Of the 105 subjects, 53 received daily supplements while 52 received a placebo (the control group).

The outcome distinctly demonstrates that those receiving macular carotenoids — lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin — enjoyed meaningful benefits to their visual function. The improvement recorded was primarily in people’s contrast sensitivity, which is how much contrast a person needs to see a target

Who benefits the most?

While we can all benefit from improved eyesight, the results of this study provide encouragement and motivation for those who rely on their eyesight for professional reasons. This includes:

  • Motorists
  • Sportspeople
  • Quality control professionals
  • Train drivers
  • Pilots
  • Police
  • Military marksmen

As a majority of us drive to work, the potential of improving our good vision is quite appealing.

Professor John Nolan, principal investigator for the CREST study and founder of the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, adds:

“All of us involved in this research are tremendously excited about the outcome – not only from a scientific perspective but also because of the significant benefits it will have for a wide range of people. Many people may already consider themselves to have ‘good’ eyesight, but now we know that many of these would benefit from appropriate supplementation.

To take the example of drivers on our busy roads, improvements in contrast sensitivity, such as we have seen in our study population, would allow for earlier and more accurate detection of moving and nonmoving objects in our field of view, and will therefore improve driving safety.

 Sportspeople — especially those in fast ball games — also stand to benefit greatly, and we were delighted to have Noel Connors, the Waterford senior hurler and All-Star undergo testing at our vision research centre.”

This is quite exciting as this is the first study to demonstrate an improvement in vision with specific supplements in subjects with healthy eyes. This is just more evidence that a diet high in antioxidants and carotenoids (found in dark green leafy vegetables) is essential to maintaining and even improving our vision.

If you would like more information about the CREST study, watch this video here.

Spinach (and other dark leafy greens) – not just for Popeye

Dark green vegetables are the number one food you can eat regularly to help improve your vision as well as your overall health.  Along with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances to help improve vision, these types of food can also help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and perhaps even cancer.

Here is our top five dark greens to boost your eyesight and overall health:

      1. Kale: This nutrition powerhouse is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, and it has a good amount of calcium for a vegetable. It also supplies folate and potassium. Kale’s ruffle-edged leaves may range in color from cream to purple to black depending on the variety.
      2. Swiss chard: A good source of vitamins A and C, Swiss chard has a beet-like taste and soft texture that’s perfect for sauteing. Both Swiss chard and spinach contain oxalates.
      3. Spinach: Popeye’s go-to vegetable is packed with vitamins A and C, as well as folate. But did you know that cooked spinach gives more nutrition than raw? That’s because heat reduces the green’s oxalate content, freeing up its dietary calcium.
      4. Broccoli: Broccoli is rich in vitamin C and is also a good source of vitamin A, potassium, and folate. Its stalks and florets add both crunch and color to stir-fries.
      5. Red and green leaf lettuce: A familiar sight in salad bowls, these lettuces are high in vitamin A and offer some folate. Leaf lettuces have a softer texture than romaine, a crunchy variety often used in Caesar salads.
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How’s your vision? Is it as good as it can be? When was the last time you had an eye exam? Email Jenny at jenny@gp-optom.co.nz and we can book an appointment.

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