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An unbalanced diet can have an influence, as much by excess as by defect, on eye health. This was evident last Friday at the Mercat de la Guineueta during the workshop 'Nutrition and eye health', an activity open to the public organized by the Barraquer Foundation together with the Institut de Mercats de Barcelona and Think Eat.

According to Itziar Izuel, nurse of the Basic Health Unit of the Barrraquer Ophthalmology Center, vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness and vitamin B2 deficiency may result in photophobia, corneal alterations and optic neuropathies. The effect of the consumption of vitamins, antioxidants and other micronutrients in the prevention of various eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eye syndrome is fundamental. Nevertheless, according to Izuel, we must also take into account systemic diseases. These are the diseases affecting the whole body and, therefore having a direct impact on eye health:

  • Diabetes
It is the increase of glucose (sugar) in blood and can damage the small blood vessels of the retina, which is the layer of tissue in the back of the eye. This pathology is known as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes also increases the risk of glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems. For this, a diet low in sugars is recommended together with having five meals a day and exercise.
  • Arterial hypertension
It is considered that a person is hypertensive when the maximum constant is greater than 140 and the minimum higher than 90. High blood pressure can also cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina, which is responsible for transforming light and images in nervous signals that are sent to the brain. The higher the blood pressure and the longer it has last, the more the damage will produce. To prevent these diseases it is necessary to take a hypocaloric diet, lower the consumption of fats, sweets and carbohydrates, as well as increase the intake of fresh vegetables and legumes. The consumption of meat and fish should be controlled and preferably shop fresh products.
  • Hypercholesterolemia
A high level of cholesterol in blood can block blood flow in the eye and affect the retina or brain cortex, where visual function develops. This causes a progressive loss of the ability to distinguish colours.

In addition, it is important to bear in mind that obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.

To prevent eye problems through food, as explained at the workshop Marta Guarro and Anna Villanueva, nutrition consultants at Think Eat, there are some recipes that contain foods rich in nutrients necessary for good eye health. Next, we show you one of them:

Vegetable pate toast with sardines

Ingredients for 4 servings

20 dried tomatoes

75g toasted almonds with skin

1 small garlic kernel

Extra virgin olive oil

Canned sardines

Whole toast

Salt and pepper to taste



Soak the dried tomatoes the night before. Drain well and reserve. Chop the almonds until you get a cream. Add the tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, pepper, oregano and crush everything until you get the desired consistency. Assemble the toast with the pate and the sardines on top. Enjoy your meal!