How Diet Affects Eye Health

July 01, 2020

Diet and exercise are two of the biggest factors you can control when trying to stay healthy. If you treat your body right with proper nutrients and levels of activity, it will respond well over time. This is especially true of your sight, which can be directly affected by your lifestyle choices. Eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma may be linked to deficiencies of essential vitamins and nutrients. This means that providing your body with these essentials can help delay or prevent the onset of these diseases and help you preserve your sense of sight for as long as possible. Here’s how proper diet can help your eye health.

Ways to Eat Healthy

Many different foods are beneficial to your eye health in different ways. Unhealthy fats can damage your sight over time, while healthy fats provide fuel and structure. Fiber, protein, antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals protect your eyes against damage and promote healthy growth and healing. What’s more, cooking or preparing these foods to provide your body with necessary nutrients is often a lot easier and economical than it can seem. Recipes are always available online to help you find creative ways to incorporate healthy food into your diet, and most restaurants have healthy options available so you can make positive diet choices even when eating out.

Types of Eye-Healthy Food

Knowing exactly which foods you need to add to your grocery list is a great place to start taking better care of your eye—and overall—health.

Fish

Fish is rich in several essential nutrients and provides an excellent source of protein. It’s also a significant source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is one of the most important and well-known eye-healthy nutrients that you can add to your diet. It’s a kind of healthy fat that helps power the body, strengthen the immune system and maintain structural integrity within cells. It has been linked to reversing dry eye conditions, along with boosting retina health. Salmon, cod, tuna, mackerel and trout are all excellent types of fish to consume to get this nutrient into your body. Fish oil supplements can also help.

Nuts, Seeds, Legumes

Nuts, seeds and legumes also contain healthy fats and proteins that, like fish, are beneficial to your sight. They also contain high levels of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects the eyes against free radicals, which are molecules that break down healthy tissues. Vitamin E can provide protection against age-related eye damage.

Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that protect against eye diseases, like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and help block the harmful rays of the sun. Eggs also contain Vitamin E, along with Vitamin C and zinc.

Beef and Chicken

Both beef and chicken are rich in the mineral zinc, known as a “helper molecule” that delivers Vitamin A to the retina to create melanin, a protective pigment in the eye. Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of preventable blindness, so this is an important nutrient to have for eye health. Zinc also plays a large role in eye health (and in overall wellness), so it’s a good mineral to keep around. Beef is a form of red meat and is often a source of unhealthy fats, so eating it in moderation is advised. Chicken is generally a healthier meat, though it usually contains a lower concentration of zinc than beef does.

Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

Sweet potatoes are chock-full of essential nutrients. For instance, they contain Vitamin E and beta carotenes. Beta carotene, the nutrient that gives sweet potatoes and carrots their orange color, helps the body produce Vitamin A, which is necessary for eye health.

Citrus Fruits

Fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruits and limes are excellent sources of Vitamin C, a nutrient similar to Vitamin E that can help fight age-related eye damage and can potentially lower the risk of developing cataracts.

Leafy Greens and Citrus

No list of healthy foods would be complete without leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale and collards. These vegetables are rich in lutein, zeaxanthin and Vitamin C. They’re also an important source of essential fiber.

Supplements

Multivitamins and dietary supplements are also quality sources of eye-healthy nutrients, though they should never be taken as a substitute for a healthy diet. Supplements can provide a boost of nutrients to prevent disease, especially if you’re not getting enough from your current diet or if you have a bodily need that requires you to take in more or specific nutrients. When shopping for a good multivitamin, look for ones that include high concentrations of Vitamins C and E. They should also include zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin. Your eye doctor will be able to give you recommendations of brands to look for that will fit your individual eye health needs.

We’re Here to Help!

Your sight is important to us. Vision is arguably the sense we as human beings use the most, so helping you keep your eyes healthy over time is our priority. If you have any questions about other ways to improve or maintain your eye health or would like to set up your next appointment, contact us today!

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