By Nicola Haley
We all know that living a balanced lifestyle is the key to good health. That means getting plenty of exercise, eating well and keeping our minds and bodies active. But in recent years, the use of digital devices has continued to rise. In moderation, time spent shopping online, reading a book on your tablet or catching up on the latest news on your smartphone does not pose a problem. However, exposure to digital devices for a prolonged period of time can damage your health, and perhaps not surprisingly, it’s your eyesight that’s most likely to pay the price.
The damage caused by blue light
Many people are aware that light can be dangerous, but usually, it’s the light we cannot see that causes us the most harm. For instance, the sun produces UV light, which we all know can be extremely harmful, but it also produces blue light, which is part of the visible light spectrum. Blue light has a very short wavelength. This causes it to scatter when it comes into contact with air molecules and this is the reason the sky looks blue.
However, the sun is not the only source of blue light. It is also produced by digital devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets, and it is this that can damage our eyes. The trouble is that unlike weaker wavelengths of visible light, blue light flickers at a shorter wavelength and it is this action that, over the longer term, can cause retinal damage to the eyes.
The role of lutein and zeaxanthin
The macula in the eye has a yellow pigment which filters out the harmful blue light to protect the eye. However, over-exposure to blue light can damage the macula and lead to a condition called age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin, which we get from our diet, play a significant part in protecting the macula from this type of damage. In fact, a Harvard study found that people who eat plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin are 40% less likely to suffer from age-related macular degeneration.
How does kale help?
Kale that has been cooked contains the highest amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, with 18.3mg per 100g, of any food type. There are also plenty of other foods that contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, such as eggs, broccoli and garden peas.
Of course, protecting your peepers is not the only part kale can play in your physical health. It’s low in calories, high in fibre and has zero fat. It also has high levels of iron, which aids cell growth and promotes the formation of haemoglobin and enzymes. Then there are the high levels of vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C, which are excellent for the immune system, vision and bone health.
How else can you protect against age-related macular degeneration?
Other ways you can help to protect against the risk of age-related macular degeneration include regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and wearing sunglasses and a hat when you’re out in the sun.
What steps do you take to protect your eye health? Please leave your tips in the comments section below.