eye health
Family,  Health,  self-care

Nutrition for Healthy Eyes

Truth:  Worsening eyesight is inevitable and a result of the natural aging process. 

Another truth:  Diet and nutrition can play a key role in eye health and slow down vision deterioration.

As a kid many of us were told to drink our milk for strong bones and teeth.  Our parents begged us to eat spinach claiming it would make us strong.  We were also urged to eat our carrots for healthy eyes.  The funny thing is, these are all actually true and not just a sly way to encourage a healthy diet.

Our eyes have a very important job for their size, and it would be wise for us to consider diet and nutrition as a major factor in keeping our eyes healthy.  After all, we only get one set of them for an entire lifetime.  To date, there are several organs where transplants are possible.  Eyes have yet to make the list. 

Keeping up with annual comprehensive eye exams and maintaining good control of other health conditions, like diabetes and hypertension, are only part of the equation for healthy eyes. 

Let’s look at a few diet and nutrition suggestions that will give your eyes a natural boost of healthful benefits. 

Vitamin A

Being deficient in vitamin A can lead to dry eyes, night blindness, corneal ulcers and a host of other eye issues.  The good news is there are plenty of ways to include vitamin A in your diet.  Vitamin A can be found in animal-derived foods such as liver, egg yolks and dairy products. 

On the plant-based side, you can opt leafy greens, carrots, grapefruit, and many others to get a good dose of beta carotene which the body will then turn into vitamin A. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies have shown there to be an abundance of omega-3 found in the retina so it’s thought to help maintain vision functions, or at least a part of it.  We already know omega-3 is important for brain development, but new evidence is showing benefits with dry eye disease as well.

Additionally, those with diabetes may be at lower risk for developing macular degeneration if they maintain adequate levels of omega-3.

The best source for omega-3 is oily, cold-water fish like salmon and herring. There are over-the-counter supplements with varying amounts of omega-3 to aid in getting the recommended 1,000 mg per day.  

Vitamin C

The risk for cataracts and macular degeneration are decreased with vitamin C.  Again, the best source is from nature and can be found in oranges, strawberries, broccoli and sweet peppers, among other fruits and vegetables.  Over-the-counter supplements are available for purchase as well. 

Vitamin D

The benefits of vitamin D are said to include the reduced risk for macular degeneration, which is an age-related eye disease.  The best, and cheapest, source of vitamin D is natural sunlight.  Just a few minutes of exposure to the sun daily gets you what you need. 

Salmon, milk and orange are also other great sources of vitamin D.  If none of that works for you, get vitamin D supplements over-the-counter at your local pharmacy or department store. 

Lutein & Zeaxanthin

Also said to give an added layer of protection against cataracts and macular degeneration is lutein and zeaxanthin.  These are the yellow carotenoid antioxidants located in the macula, which is the central portion of the retina.   They are said to aid in blocking blue light; think of sunblock you apply to your skin.

Once again, look for the richest concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin in leafy greens, but they can also be found in sweet corn, egg yolks, pistachios and red grapes. 

Of note:  Carotenoids are best absorbed when they are ingested with a good source of fat.  Eggs are high in fat, so they are a perfect idea packaged in a little shell.  Adding avocado to a leafy green salad with an oil-based dressing is also a great way to hit all the high points. 

In Conclusion

Just like many other “suggested” ways of eating, diet and nutrition which can benefit eye health is mostly from natural sources.  Processed foods offer the least nutritional benefits and can even speed up the very diseases you are trying to avoid. 

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it should definitely give you some food for thought.  Not to mention a starting point for your next trip to the grocery store.  Hopefully, you’re already doing a great job with nutrition and diet and this list just reinforced your choices. 

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This article provides general information and discussion about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having.

Nutrition for Healthy Eyes

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