A High-Fat Diet Is Detrimental to Your Vision

A high-fat diet can cause damage to blood vessels in the retina and the choroid, which can reduce the flow of oxygen and nutrients necessary for vision.

Glucose and Calories

Your body runs on glucose. Your body burns glucose to provide the energy you need to keep your body processes functioning. Calories are the measure of the amount of energy you get from glucose.

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are all used by the body to provide glucose when needed. Carbs and proteins both provide four calories per gram; fats provide nine calories per gram, more than twice as much.

This means that every time you eat foods that are high in fat (dairy products, red meats, poultry, oils, margarine, and processed foods), you are putting more than twice as many calories into your body.

When your body has more calories than it needs at the moment, it stores the rest in fat tissues, even if it has to make more fat tissue.

A high-fat diet produces the fat deposits that accumulate under the skin of your thighs, your abdomen, and your jowls (among other locations!), and in your arteries, restricting blood flow.

Atherosclerosis is the term for the accumulation of fat deposits on the walls of the arteries. This results in arteriosclerosis, the term used to describe the thickening and hardening of the walls of your arterial blood vessels.

Arteriosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, reduces the blood flow to the various parts of the eye. This limits the amount of oxygen and nutrients these cells receive.

Especially affected are the choroidal blood vessels, which supply the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The RPE cells become damaged and die off.

The photoreceptors, which are dependent on the RPE for their nourishment, then die off, resulting in vision loss.

Lower the Risk of Arteriosclerosis

What can you do to lower the risk of arteriosclerosis? Start by eliminating or your high-fat diet or, at least cutting back on the amount of fat you eat.

  • If you eat a lot of dairy products, switch to nonfat versions    based on a base of skim milk.

  •    Whole milk carries half its calories as fat, while 2 percent    (low-fat) has 38% of its calories as fat. Nonfat milk has just    2.5 percent of its calories as fat, so you can substantially    reduce your high-fat diet by using skim milk and nonfat    dairy products.

  • Cut back on the amount of meat you eat, especially red    meat. Meat is high in both saturated fat and cholesterol.    These both raise your serum cholesterol level, which results    in arteries clogged with plaque.

  •    Meat also contains iron, which oxidizes cholesterol into a    type that sticks more easily to the arterial walls. And meat    has few antioxidants, so while it has a negative effect on    your sight and general health, it has few benefits, especially    for your vision.

  • If you prefer to eat meat, concentrate on poultry and fish.    These have lower fat content than read meats, and thus are    a good way to reduce your high-fat diet.

  •    Eat roasted or grilled skinless chicken. This will lower the    amount of fat you ingest.

       Fish is even better as it is lower in fat, and some types (such    as tuna) contain essential fatty acids (EFAs) known as    omega-3 fatty acids. These EFAs reduce your risk of heart    disease.

       In Glaucoma I discussed how these EFAs help regulate eye    pressure, lessening your risk of glaucoma. However, please    remember that you can take supplements to optimize your    level of omega-3.

  • Avoid excessive use of oils, margarines, and other high-fat    products such as butter and ice cream. Use only oils that    are liquid at room temperature as they have little or no    saturated fat, which causes your serum cholesterol level to    increase.

  • Eat fewer processed and/or prepackaged foods, including    ones that say they are "fat-free." They may simply have    serving sizes that are small enough to have less than .5    grams of fat, which qualifies these products for the term    "fat-free."

  •    If you don’t read the label, you might be eating five or six of    the manufacturer’s suggested serving size, and then you’ll be    eating 2.5 or more grams of fat at one time.

  • Don’t fry your foods. You can bake, broil, grill, steam, or    poach most foods. These cooking methods won’t overwhelm    the taste of the food like cooking with fat or oil can do.

  •    If you do fry your foods, add garlic, onions, or ginger to the    oil before cooking, as these ingredients slow the degradation    of oils during frying, resulting in fewer free radicals in your    food.

    While reducing the fat content in your diet, increase the complex carbohydrate and protein content of your diet. Complex carbs come from whole grains (whole wheat, brown rice, and many others) and from legumes (beans, peas, lentils).

    These same foods provide some protein as well. Supplement this with protein from other low-fat sources such as tofu (a soybean product), chicken and fish, and you'll have reduced your high-fat diet to a nutritious, good eye health diet.