Worst foods for your eye health

Does what I eat affect what I see? Generally, we’re aware of foods that aren’t very good for overall health. But have you considered that some foods do not support healthy vision and may contribute to vision loss? Scientific research has revealed that many eye problems are linked to poor diet and nutrition.

The health of your eyes is directly connected to the health of your heart and blood vessels. Processed food purchased at the supermarket is high in saturated fat, an unhealthy fat, the type that raises blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat found in red meat, dairy products, fried foods, and junk food causes plaque buildup in blood vessels. The blood vessels that supply the eyes are very tiny and can easily become blocked.

A diet high in saturated fat is a diet consisting of unhealthy food. But it’s not all bad, meaning it’s more about balance, not total removal. Katherine Patton, Lead, Outpatient Dietician at the Cleveland Clinicsaid, “try to find a balance and add a bit of healthy fat back into the diet. We do not recommend completely avoiding saturated fat.” The American Heart Association recommends aiming for about 5 to 6% of daily calories from saturated fat. While USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends up to 10%.

Which food is not good for eyes?

A healthy diet leads to healthy eyes; an unhealthy diet leads to unhealthy eyes. But “healthy eating” is a very vague concept. So, how do we know what foods to avoid for eye health? Bad foods for eye health tend to fall in some very broad categories of generally unhealthy foods:

1. Simple Carbohydrates

While delicious, the carbs found in pasta and white bread have been linked to a higher risk of eye diseases. When broken down, simple carbs cause a spike in blood sugar. Blood sugar is used as energy to fuel your body, but spikes caused by a poor diet are a risk factor for diabetes. A diet rich in simple carbohydrates can also cause weight gain and increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. All of which influence eye health.

A study on the dietary glycemic index and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) suggests that patients at risk of AMD may benefit from decreased levels of simple carbs.

2. Sodium

A high sodium diet with frequent salt spikes can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension). Sodium-rich foods include:

  • hot dogs
  • bacon
  • deli meat
  • canned foods

Over time, hypertension causes profound damage in the eye including blood vessel damage, a buildup of fluid beneath the retina, and a blockage of blood flow that kills nerves. All can cause blurred vision and vision loss.

3. Saturated fat and trans fat

Health experts recommend staying away from food items that include hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Cooking oil with less than four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon is recommended.  Margarine is considered a healthy alternative to butter but is full of trans fats that can increase blood cholesterol levels. Trade unhealthy fats out for polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Condiments, toppings, and dressing

Why are all the best foods unhealthy for us? Mayonnaise, salad dressing, and even jelly are high in fat making them potentially bad for our eyes (and overall health).

5. Sweetened drinks

Soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other sweetened drinks can contain up to 7 to 10 tablespoons of sugar per drink. This amount of added sugar can lead to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and age-related macular degeneration.

Sourced from the Assil Gaur Eye Institute