Bad Vision: The Four Worst Diet Habits for Eye Health

As a follow-up post to last week's discussion of the best foods for eye health, today we'll go over the four absolute worst dietary things you can do for your eyes.

1) Smoke:
Okay, sure, it’s not technically a food, but you do “ingest” tobacco smoke. And smoking is at the top of this list for the simple reason that it is the most preventable cause of eye health problems, including macular degeneration and cataracts.

The various toxins and carcinogens contained in tobacco smoke enter into your bloodstream via your lungs, and from there they head straight for your eyes. These toxins can affect retinal function, and they can exacerbate macular degeration.

2) Eat a High-Fat Diet:
A diet centered around high-fat foods is of course unhealthy for many reasons, including causing cardiovascular problems like ateriosclerosis. And just as these transfats can clog the arteries to your heart, they can also clog up the arteries to your eyes, and this can cause damage to your optic nerve and potentially result in loss of vision.

Despite their value as part of an occasional energy-dense meal, fats (especially transfats, like partially hydrogenated soybean oil, butter and margarine) should never play an excessive role your diet.

3) Eat too much salt:
We’ve harped on how salt is shamelessly overused in restaurants and in many prepared foods. Well, here’s another reason to be concerned about your sodium intake: high sodium levels in your body can lead to high blood pressure, which can restrict the flow of blood to the eyes. Remember, blood nourishes your cells, and it also takes pollutants and waste products away from your cells. This includes the cells of your optic nerves and your retinas.

4) Be Severely Overweight:
According to the Mayo Clinic, “being severely overweight increases the chances that early or intermediate macular degeneration will progress to the more severe form of the disease.”

Furthermore, if you're overweight, you run a high risk of having Type II (adult onset) diabetes. And diabetes, especially if not managed properly, can cause all sorts of problems with the eyes, including lost vision due to leaking blood vessels in the retina.

Let me just make a brief apology for the tone of this if this post. It sounds so... admonishing! My goal with this post is not to depress you, but just to make you aware that the foods you eat--and how well you take care of your body--can have a meaningful impact on your vision.

Let's say it once again, with feeling: eat right to see right!

Related Posts:
Eat Right To See Right: Foods for Better Eye Health
Why I'm a Part-Time Vegetarian
Top Ten Most Popular Posts of Casual Kitchen
Ten Strategies to Stop Mindless Eating
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Jaime said...

This is a great post, but the part about high-fat diets isn't true. Eating a lot of *bad* fats - processed fats, fried foods, trans fats - is bad for you, but, for example, omega-3s are *great* for your eyesight, and fat in general, combined with a healthy diet, is really important for our bodies.

Daniel Koontz said...

Hi Jaime:
Thanks for the input. You're right, I should have specified between "good" and "bad" fats for sure.

Thanks for your comment!


Anonymous said...

Another thing important to mention (similar to the overweight issue) - Anything you can do to avoid Diabetes (proper diet, excersize) or control Type 1 Diabetes is important. Diabtes is one of the leading causes of non-congenital blindness in the world.