IF you had to choose between having the perfect figure or being blind it’s not even debatable, but the reality is that extreme dieting and dramatic weight loss could potentially lead to a loss of vision.

Women starving themselves to get thin are not eating enough of the right nutrients and seriously risk having long term eyesight problems warned a senior optometrist.

But it’s not just women who can be affected. The issue was raised after it was reported that Hollywood actor, Matthew McConaughey lost nearly four stone and revealed that it almost left him blind.

The 43-year-old actor, who dramatically dropped the weight in three months to play an AIDS sufferer in Dallas Buyers Club, said that when he reached 10st 2lbs he started to lose his eyesight.

Diet plays a huge part in the health of your eyes and a senior optometrist at Viewpoint Opticians in York warned that years of excessive and extreme dieting could make people more prone to develop eye-conditions such as Age Related Macular Degeneration.

Chris Worsman, Senior Optometrist at Viewpoint, said: “If someone is not eating enough then the lack of retinol derived from Vitamin A means they could lose their sight.

“Spectacles or contact lenses can’t help this situation as they focus light on the back of the eye, but if the back of the eye is damaged, even with the light in focus the person will not be able to see.

“To make retinol we need Vitamin A, which we get largely from beta-carotene in our food, especially rich in carrots, sweet potato, kale, turnip greens, spinach, butternut squash and peppers.”

Chris explained that cells in the retina at the back of the eye contain a chemical called retinol that converts the light into electrical signals that are passed to the brain to enable us to see.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the over 60s. This damaging condition results in loss of central vision including reading and face recognition. There is no cure for AMD but the good news is, it can be prevented or delayed.

Studies have shown that vitamins of the antioxidant group can slow down conditions like Macular Degeneration. Your eyes need Vitamin A for normal vision and nutrients including, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and an antioxidant called Lutein. All are beneficial to your eye’s health, helping to reduce the risk of disease.

Chris Worsman added: “A healthy diet won’t restore any eyesight that has already been lost, but it certainly can slow down the process of optical ageing diseases. Adopting a healthier attitude towards diet and cutting out cigarettes really can help keep your sight in good health.

“Taking this advice, along with regular sight tests can prevent the onset of damaging eye conditions. At Viewpoint we have state-of-the-art equipment that allows us to provide comprehensive eye examinations using cutting edge equipment.”

Here are some of the foods packed with the recommended nutrients and antioxidants.

* Leafy green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale are rich sources of lutein, which protects the eyes by forming pigment in the macular, which help by filtering out harmful blue light wavelengths that can damage the eye. The more pigment your eyes contain, the less likely they are to develop AMD. The body does not naturally generate lutein so you need to ensure the foods you eat contain it.

* Carrots provide Vitamin A, which helps keep the surface of the eye and eyelids healthy, and Beta Carotene, an antioxidant that protects the cells of your eyes from free-radical damage due to pollution and excess sun exposure.

* Oily Fish contains omega-3 fats which help lower the risk of conditions like AMD and glaucoma.

* Eggs are another food that is good for vision as egg yolk is another key source of lutein.

* Nuts and seeds contain zinc, which helps with retina function. It is also used to release Vitamin A from the liver which is then used by the eye.

* Fruit is another great food to keep your eyes in good condition as it contains a lot of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Beta Carotene.

There are other changes which can have a significant impact on eye health. Stopping smoking can dramatically decrease the risk of Macular Degeneration.

The toxic effects that cigarette smoke has on the retina can increase the risk of AMD by two to five times and, as the risk is dose dependent, the more you smoke, the greater the risk and the faster the progression of the disease. With no cure for AMD, smoking is the only proven cause of the condition that people can do anything about.