Wide prevalence of visual impairment is a matter of concern in many developing countries and deficiency of vitamin A in the regular diet has been identified as the major causative factor. WHO and other international bodies have been advocating massive administration of vitamin A once in a year to vulnerable children at young age to prevent development of blindness during later years of life. The practice of regularly taking Cod liver oil rich in vitamin A or the encapsulated products containing fish oil was considered adequate for preventing deficiency in some populations not consuming enough green vegetables or fish regularly. Against such a background, the recent findings that leafy vegetables like spinach and colored fruits if consumed in sufficient quantities regularly, can protect vision is significant.
"After reviewing the various studies, the authors concluded that macular pigments, such as lutein and zeaxanthin do have an effect on visual performance. Lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce disability and discomfort from glare, enhance contrast, and reduce photostress recovery times. They can also reduce glare from light absorption and increase the visual range".
Biological means of improving vision is always preferable to others like surgery and if fruits and vegetables can protect the retina and lens and prevent age related eye ailments, why not GOI take up promotion of this practice amongst children through a well coordinated policy frame work in collaboration with the states. Billions of rupees spent on the "Horticulture Mission" will have a meaning only if the increased production is utilized inside the country instead of exports. It is for the Food scientists in the country to come up with visually, organoleptically and nutritionally acceptable preparations, liked by children, that can attract more and more consumers to the concept of fruit and vegetables dominated diets for better health.