Urghh, I’m beginning to dread dining out. Not because my home-cooked food is far superior. Not because portion sizes are insidiously shrinking whilst the prices are sneakily creeping up.
No, it’s mainly because of my diminishing eyesight in dimly lit rooms. I now have to be armed with my reading glasses and pull the candle closer to the menu, leaving me looking disappointingly like a ‘blinky’ and my dining partner concerned about my hair igniting. As I don’t plan to become a social hermit, it looks like I’m going to have to tackle my night blindness head on.
If like me, you have impaired vision in dimly lit environments, your eyes struggle to adapt when changing from bright light to darkness, or you have difficulty seeing during night driving, there could be a problem with the rods in the retina of your eyes. The rods and cones in your eye are the photoreceptors that take in light and pass information through the optic nerve to your brain for interpretation.
So what could be a the root of my night blindness? Well it could be:-
A deficiency of vitamin A (retinol) or betacarotene / pro vitamin A (vitamin A can be made from betacarotene in the body)
A deficiency of Taurine, an amino acid/protein
Malabsorption of vitamin A or poor conversion of betacarotene to retinol (the thyroid hormone thyroxine/T4 is required for this conversion, so low thyroid function can impair the sythesis of retinol))
Trace element deficiencies (i.e. zinc, selenium, copper and iron)
UVA and UVB sun damage to the retina or damage from blue light emitted by computers
As boring as it is to admit it, I am beginning to think I would have been wise to listen to my sister when she kept insisting I should invest in a good quality pair of sunglasses (whilst I was happy to squint my way through my holiday because of my talent for immediately losing expensive designer glasses).
But no need to dwell on that.... the body is designed to self-heal, given the right ‘medicine’, so I am going to make a concerted effort to get more vitamin A from egg yolks and fish and increase my intake of betacarotene rich dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens, watercress, and the orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I’ll be further upping the amount of zinc rich pumpkin seeds and seafood.
Getting good doses of. Zeaxanthin found in carrots, cabbage, broccoli, kale, leeks, parsley, pumpkin, butternut squash, Swiss chard and watercress may also help my night blindness and preserve vision.
Taurine, found in photoreceptors of the eye at levels ten times great than other amino acids, is a major player in supporting the integrity of photoreceptors rods & Rhodopsin pigment necessary for night vision. Fortunately, taurine aside from being present in eggs and dark chicken meat, is also found in fish and seaweed, both of which I love.
So here is the ‘eye-deal’ (!) soup I whipped up for today’s lunch:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small leeks, washed and cut into slices
½ red onion, skinned and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, skin removed and sliced lengthways finely
1 butternut squash, skinned and cut into chunks
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
1 celery stick, cut into slices
1 cup of petit pois
5 stalks of kale, stalk removed, and ripped into chunks.
1 tbsp tomato puree
500 ml of vegetable stock
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
Add the leeks and onion and sweat until transparent
Add the slices of garlic and sweat for 2 minutes
Add all the chopped vegetables (except the peas and kale), stir to coat with oil and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes
Add the vegetable stock, turn up the heat and gently bring to the boil. Once roller boiling, turn down the heat and simmer the soup until the root veg is tender.
In the last 5-7 minutes of cooking, add the tomato puree and stir. Then add the peas and kale. Allow the kale to cook until it is tender but still a fresh bright green (don’t let it overcook and go a muggy green).
Serve with a scattering of chopped parsley or coriander if desired.