Foods to put in children’s lunch boxes to maintain healthy eyes.
A poor diet consisting of highly processed foods with large amounts of salt and sugar can increase the risks of developing diabetes and many other health problems that can lead to blindness.
Jacqueline Gattegno, a Smart Vision Optometrist at Eyes InDesign Bondi, explains the importance of healthy food to maintain eye health. “Try adding some eye-friendly food to your diet, it can help improve vision and ward off diseases. While it’s important to nourish the body, adding certain nutrients can improve vision, especially in children. A well-balanced diet can help children develop vital learning skills and prevent vision loss,” Jacquie suggests.
We all know that a child’s development can vary immensely from child to child. It is perhaps not as well known that a child’s vision also develops over time and can also vary from child to child.
“Having a vision problem can affect a child’s academic performance and quality of life,” says Jacquie,” She explains the relationship between vision and learning; and why it is so important for parents to understand the difference between sight and vision. “Often it is not until children begin to read that we first notice they have a vision problem. This is the time when they start using their visual system more intensively to tune into small details. The level of demand on visual skills required for reading increases throughout a child’s learning years.”
A healthy lunch box is a great start to help boost the nutrients children need to protect them from eye health issues such as the formation of cataracts, and macular degeneration. A good diet can also reduce the effects of dry eyes and other eye problems.
It is often a struggle to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables, but it is these that provide essential nutrients that children need for healthy vision. Including sliced fruit or vegetables in children’s lunch boxes can be a great way to tempt them with easy to eat bite-sized snacks. Some great options include apples, blueberries or strawberries. Citrus fruits deliver powerful antioxidant levels that can help prevent cataracts later in life, so the inclusion of oranges and mandarins can be beneficial. Citrus fruit can also help lower the risk of diabetes and blindness.
Studies have shown that vegetables, such as kale and spinach, can also support healthy eyesight as they contain the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein necessary for the development and maintenance of healthy retinas. “Beta carotene can be found in capsicum, carrots, and tomatoes and helps protect eyes from night blindness. These foods can also be used as tasty snack options and are simple enough to prepare each morning. Beta carotene is also beneficial for protecting children from diabetes-related ocular diseases,” Jacquie says.
Eggs, oily or fatty fish, and nuts are great sources of omega 3, which supports healthy eye function and brain development in early childhood. Essential fatty acids protect the retina from weakening and can reduce the effects of dry eyes and other eye problems. “Excellent options for quick and easy lunches are tuna and crackers or salmon fishcakes,” says Jacquie.
A deficiency in zinc can lead to deterioration in the macula, which is the centre of the retina responsible for central vision. Eating fresh meats and green vegetables can help protect the macula from disease, including macular degeneration. As well as being used in a variety of metabolic processes throughout the entire body, zinc also helps transport other nutrients to the eye. “An easy way to get extra zinc into children’s diets is through zinc-fortified cereals or pumpkin seeds, which have added vitamins and minerals,” says Jacquie.
For more great ideas about how to support children’s healthy vision, talk to a Smart Vision Optometrist soon.
Smart Vision Optometry clinics are located in Sydney. Book a Smart Vision Comprehensive Vision Skills Assessment or Advanced Eye Health Test for any child or adult by calling the Mosman clinic (02) 9969 1600 or the Bondi clinic (02) 9365 5047, alternatively book an appointment online.
Written and syndicated by: YDMA News