Your diet can have a tremendous effect on your health, including the health of your eyes. When you order a salad, you’re not just watching your waistline but reducing your risk of developing certain eye diseases.
Studies have shown some vitamins and minerals can prevent two of the most common causes of vision loss and blindness: cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts occur when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy, often due to age, and macular degeneration is a disease that leads to a loss of central vision that may occur suddenly or over time.
Antioxidants fight free radicals in your retina (particularly the macula at its center) to protect your eyes. High oxidative stress in the retina involves an abundance of free radicals that may damage DNA and proteins found inside your cells. Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc are rich in antioxidants that may prevent macular degeneration progression. These nutrients are found in the following foods:
- Vitamin A: Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, raw red peppers, spinach and ricotta cheese
- Vitamin C: Green vegetables (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.), oranges, strawberries, raw red peppers and grapefruit
- Vitamin E: Broccoli, spinach, sunflower seeds, peanut butter and almonds
- Zinc: Beef, yogurt, pork chops, oysters and chickpeas
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These are carotenoids found in plants with an orange, yellow or red pigment. Lutein and zeaxanthin are present inside your retina, and eating foods rich in these nutrients provides antioxidant properties for the macula. They mainly protect the pigment density in the macula by absorbing extra UV light and blue light and neutralizing free radicals. Foods that contain lutein and zeaxanthin include:
- Egg yolks
- Green vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, spinach and romaine lettuce)
Omega-3 Fatty Acid DHA
High concentrations of DHA are found in the outer areas of your retinal photoreceptors. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may fight the inflammation involved in age-related macular degeneration. A 2015 study found that participants who took oral omega-3 fatty acids for three months experienced fewer dry eye symptoms, decreased tear evaporation and improved symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome. This essential nutrient is in cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, tuna and sardines, but flaxseeds and walnuts are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acid DHA.
These foods are likely already part of your everyday diet if you eat well-balanced meals. Researchers have yet to determine exactly what quantity of these foods should be consumed to improve eye health, but a balanced diet that includes fish at least twice a week and five servings of fruit and vegetables a day has the potential to improve more than your ocular health.
Schedule Your Annual Eye Exam
If it’s time for your annual eye exam or you’ve noticed vision changes, contact Clarity Eye Group in Huntington Beach to schedule your appointment by calling (714) 842-0651.