Diet rich in nitrates reduces the risk of glaucoma

We’ve long been told that eating carrots is the key to good eyesight.

But it turns out, leafy green vegetables may be the secret to boosting our sight.

A diet rich in nitrate – found in spinach, kale and lettuce – reduces the risk of glaucoma by up to 30 per cent, scientists revealed.

Nearly three million people in the US currently suffer from glaucoma – a disease of the eye’s optic nerve.

These findings could help prevent additional glaucoma cases from developing.

Scientists from Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School studied the association between dietary nitrate intake and primary open-angle glaucoma.

The disease occurs because of damage to the optic nerve, often when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

It is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60.

Previous research suggested that nitrate – which is found in leafy green vegetables – is beneficial for blood circulation.

And so, the scientists set out to see if it has any effects on glaucoma.

The scientists analyzed the diets and eye exams of nearly 64,000 women between 1984 and 2012, as well as 41,000 men.

Each of the participants were over the age of 40 at the time the study began – and none of they had glaucoma.

Green vegetables
Green vegetables

The participants had eye exams every two years.

The surveys followed up with the participants over 25 years.

The participants were given repeated questionnaires, which allows researchers to evaluate their nitrate intake and glaucoma risk.

And, over the course of the study, 1,483 of the participants developed the disease.

The researchers looked at the participants’ dietary intake.

They found that those with greater intake of dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetables had a 20 to 30 per cent lower glaucoma risk.

Furthermore, that association was particularly strong – 40 to 50 per cent lower risk – for a subtype of glaucoma linked to dysfunction in blood flow autoregulatoion.

The study said: ‘These results, if confirmed in observational and intervention studies, could have important public health implications.’

However, the scientists said additional studies must be completed to further explore the association between dietary nitrate consumption and glaucoma.

The study was published in JAMA Opthalmology.

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