Recipe for Clear Vision

1. Take a good helping of light

In the beginning it is all about light. Light is what drives life. It's hard to imagine life on a planet without it.

Sight is an amazing process converting light energy to images made possible by many parts of the eye and brain working together.


2. Then add in the physics

Light enters the eye and is bent or refracted by the cornea (the window of the eye). It then passes through the pupil (the opening in the iris) and onto the lens of the eye (located behind the pupil).

The lens completes refraction by fine tuning the focused light onto the retina. The retina changes the light (energy) into electronic impulses that are carries through the optic nerve to the vision centre of the brain where the image is interpreted.


3. Use your muscles to mix

There are six muscles that move the eye, the iris has two muscles to make the pupil dilate and contract, and the lens has a muscle area to control focus.

Pupil size can change from 2 millimeters to 8 millimeters. This means that by changing the size of the pupil, the eye can change the amount of light that enters it by up to 30 times.


4. Then finish with some chemistry

The retina has rod cells, which are responsible for vision in low light, and cone cells, which are responsible for colour vision and detail. At the back of the eye, in the centre of the retina, is the macula. In the centre of the macula there are only cones and this part of the eye is responsible for seeing fine detail clearly.

Cells in the retina contain a chemical called rhodopsin, or "vision purple". This is the chemical that converts light into electrical impulses that the brain interprets as vision.


5. A lot can go wrong

With so many moving parts plus all the wiring and chemicals there is plenty that can go wrong. That is why you should visit your optometrist for regular eye exams even if you don't need glasses.

Top 10 Foods for Eye Health

A number of recent studies on nutrients and eye health have indicated that diet can benefit your long term eye health.

  • Load up on vitamins, minerals and antioxidants;
  • Eat very little of the saturated fats and vegetable oils (including margarine).
  • Look for foods with vitamins C and E, carotenoids, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.  Pick and mix to suit your budget, general health profile, and personal preferences.

The easiest way to start eating for eye health is to follow the 5-plus rule for fruits and vegetables.  Go for colour.  

  1. Leafy dark greens like silver beet, spinach, puha, and dark salad greens.
  2. Berries - all kinds: black, blue and red.
  3. Orange, yellow and red vegetables: pumpkin, carrots, sweet corn, kumara.
  4. Orange, yellow and red fruits: citrus fruits, apricots, persimmon, papaya, plums, rockmelon and watermelon (and tomato because it is technically a fruit).
  5. Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and brussel sprouts.
  6. Fish, particularly shellfish, and “fatty” fish like tuna, salmon and sardines – fresh or canned.
  7. Nuts, raw or dry-roasted - walnuts, almonds, brazil and pine-nuts.
  8. Beans
  9. Lean meats
  10. Olive oil - to make dressings, and for cooking.
AREDS [Age Related Eye Disease Study]

Blue Mountains Eye Study

Beaver Dam Eye Study

A feast for the eyes. Australian Optometry, February 2004; 10-11
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International Food Information Council, Food Insight Newsletter. 2002; September/October [; viewed 4/08/2004]

Richer S, Stiles W et al. Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of atrophic age-related macular degeneration: the Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial). Optometry 2004; 75:216-230.

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Smith W et al. Dietary fat and fish intake and age-related maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 2000; 118: 401-404.

Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2002; 19(11): 4-5.