Seasonal fruit reduces risk of cataracts and can ‘protect’ the cornea

Electrician Ends Up With Star-Shaped Cataracts

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Ensuring our eyes are healthy is vital when it comes to avoiding potentially lasting issues such as vision loss. Although certain eye conditions might be beyond our control, there are ways to reduce your risk of them developing. And diet is one way to do this.

An expert spoke with about the benefits of eating pumpkin.

Alastair Lockwood, an ophthalmologist, eye surgeon and eye health advisor at Feel Good Contacts, said: “Pumpkins are not only a fun Halloween accessory used to create Jack O’ lanterns.

“They are also an excellent ingredient for many autumnal recipes as they contain vitamins and minerals that can benefit our overall health, including our vision.”

Vitamins in pumpkin

Mr Lockwood said: “Pumpkins are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc.

“Vitamin C slows down the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and reduces the risk of cataracts.

“Vitamin A protects the cornea and improves night vision, while zinc helps to deliver vitamin A from the liver to the retina to form melanin which protects the eye and helps slow down AMD progression.”

Cataracts occur when the lens, a small clear disc inside your eye, develops cloudy patches.

These patches often become bigger over time leading to blurry, misty vision and, ultimately, blindness.

You should seek medical help if:

  • Your eyesight is blurred or misty
  • You find lights too bright or glaring
  • You find it harder to see in low light
  • Colours look faded.

Antioxidants in pumpkin

“Pumpkin contains lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are antioxidants,” he said.

“These antioxidants protect your eyes by filtering out high energy wavelengths of light.

“They may also reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases such as cataracts and AMD.”

The importance of lutein and zeaxanthin for eyes has been backed by scientific research.

One paper, published in Nutrients journal, says: “Numerous studies have identified lutein and zeaxanthin to be essential components for eye health.

“Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoid pigments that impart yellow or orange colour to various common foods such as cantaloupe, pasta, corn, carrots, orange/yellow peppers, fish, salmon and eggs.”

The healing properties of pumpkin

Mr Lockwood said: “In addition to beta-carotene and the vitamins that pumpkins offer, iron and folate strengthen the immune system and speed up the healing process of a wound.

“Aside from boosting eye health, eating pumpkin has many other health benefits.

“They are high in fibre and potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and aid weight loss.”

However, he warned against certain pumpkin-related foods and drinks.

“While the market is saturated with pumpkin snacks, many of these snacks, including pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin pie, are packed with sugar,” he said. “Snacks and beverages such as these are best enjoyed in moderation.”

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