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Beware of These 5 Foods to Protect Your Eyesight

Most people have heard that eating carrots is good for their eyesight, but that’s often as far as the nutrition link goes. The fact is, many of the foods you eat can have a big impact on your eye health and your vision, and knowing which foods to avoid is just as important as knowing which foods to fill up on.

As a top-ranked ophthalmologist in Hialeah, Florida, Rodrigo Belalcazar MD, PLLC, helps patients at Advanced Eye Center keep their eyes healthy with regular vision exams, tailored treatments, and lifestyle guidance focused on their needs. 

Here, Dr. Belalcazar reviews five types of foods you should avoid (or at least limit) to help protect your eyes now and in the future.

1. Fried foods

They may be tasty, but fried foods are definitely not an eye-healthy treat. That includes foods from fast-food chains, restaurants, and even home-cooked versions. Fatty meats and full-fat dairy should be limited or avoided altogether. 

These foods contain lots of unhealthy fats that raise your cholesterol levels and contribute to the development of artery-clogging plaques that in turn can interfere with blood flow to your eyes. 

Data show these foods increase your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye disease that causes loss of central vision.

2. Foods high in sodium

Many of us love the convenience (and taste) of fast foods and prepackaged foods. Unfortunately, these foods aren’t known for their high levels of healthy ingredients — and many are chock full of sodium. 

Sodium is an electrolyte, and we need a little sodium for normal cell and nerve function. However, too much sodium raises your blood pressure, significantly increasing your risk of blood vessel damage inside your eye. Elevated blood pressure can also damage tiny nerves responsible for helping you see clearly.

In addition to prepackaged foods, hot dogs, deli meats, salty snacks, and plenty of condiments (like ketchup) are really high in sodium. To cut back on sodium, avoid prepackaged foods and read food labels closely. 

3. Sugary foods and drinks

Sodas, sports drinks, cakes, candies, and pastries may satisfy your sweet tooth, but they also elevate your blood sugar (glucose) levels. Over time, that can lead to diabetes, along with damage to the tiny nerves and blood vessels inside your eyes.

In fact, diabetes is so closely linked with vision problems that doctors have grouped four diseases — diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma — under one umbrella term: diabetic eye disease. Added sugars also trigger chronic inflammation, which is associated with poor vision health.

4. Alcohol

OK, alcohol isn’t technically a food, but because of its effects on eye health, it still deserves to make the list. An occasional drink isn’t necessarily bad for your eyes or your vision, but regular or heavier drinking carries risks.

If you drink alcohol, you could increase your risk of developing cataracts or glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss among American adults. Alcohol is also linked with ocular nerve issues and retina problems, along with increased progression of AMD.

5. Refined carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are found in white pasta, white bread, and baked goods made from refined flour. That’s because these foods are quickly digested, triggering a fast spike in blood sugar (glucose), which in turn can damage your eyes.

Specifically, data show simple carbs are associated with increased risks of vision problems like diabetic retinopathy, AMD, and cataracts. Eating too many simple carbs can also increase your risk of chronic inflammation, which can take a toll on your eye health.

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great way to protect your eye health and vision, and it’s also important to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams. Routine exams can diagnose vision problems early, before they have a chance to cause serious permanent vision loss.

If you’re due for your eye exam, don’t delay. Call 305-707-6011 or book an appointment online with Dr. Belalcazar today.

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