According to a recent report, a 14-year-old boy in the U.K. has suffered vision loss after years of a diet consisting mainly of potato chips, French fries, white bread and processed pork snacks.
“This case highlights the impact of diet on visual health,” says Dr. Denize Atan, a lecturer in Ophthalmology at Bristol Medical School.
Allen Taylor, director of the Nutrition and Vision Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, couldn’t agree more. “There is, absolutely, a link between poor diet and vision loss,” he says, “although most people don’t develop symptoms until after age 60.” Poor diet increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can lead to blurry vision and make reading difficult.
“Conversely, the more one subscribes to a diet rich in fruits and veggies, whole grains, the less the risk for AMD,” Taylor says.
A previous study by Taylor and his colleagues showed that consuming a lot of refined carbohydrates common in white bread, chips, crackers and sweets is linked to a higher risk of developing AMD as well as certain types of cataracts. “These carbs end up damaging the proteins within the cells of the eyes,” he explains.
In addition to diet and other healthy lifestyle choices, regular eye exams can help with early detection and treatment of issues ranging from high blood pressure to diabetes. You might consider a vision policy from your association and AMBA, which could save you hundreds in exams and eyewear.
Meanwhile, try gradually decreasing refined carbs and sugars, and notice if your vision improves. As the saying goes, seeing is believing.