The eyes are complex sensory organs that can get damaged over time through neglect. Smoking, environmental toxins and UV rays are just a few examples of oxidative stress that can gradually impair your eyesight.
One of the few ways to prevent or slow age-related diseases like cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration is to supply the body with food rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Proper nutrition is necessary for good vision. Below are some essential nutrients for healthy eyes.
Vitamin A is vital for good vision, strong immunity and healthy skin. Although vitamin A deficiency is rare, it can have serious consequences. Low vitamin A levels can cause night blindness or permanent vision loss in older adults. Good sources of vitamin A include tomatoes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, red bell pepper, mangoes, milk, eggs and beef liver.
Vitamins C and E
Both vitamins C and E are antioxidants that can prevent eye damage from free radicals. If you want to increase your vitamin C intake, eat citrus fruits, red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
Excellent sources of vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ oil, peanut butter, spinach and collard greens.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
As a bonus, eat foods rich in vitamins C and E because these two vitamins protect each other from oxidation.
These two plant pigments protect the retina from ultraviolet light damage. They act like sunglasses for the eye and protect the macula in the retina’s center. Getting enough lutein and zeaxanthin can help you prevent age-related macular degeneration, so eat lots of broccoli, peaches, mangoes, berries, spinach and Swiss chard.
Healthy riboflavin levels can help prevent cataracts, a progressive condition that deteriorates the eye’s lens. Most Americans get enough riboflavin, but you should still consider your intake. Good sources of riboflavin include meat, nuts, cheese, eggs, mushrooms and fortified breakfast cereals.
Zinc is essential for maintaining healthy eye tissue. Zinc-rich foods include lentils, beans, seeds, seafood, dairy products, eggs and meat.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids strengthen the photoreceptor cells in the retina, reduce inflammation and prevent dry eye disease. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, albacore tuna, trout and halibut. You can also get omega-3s from plant sources like walnuts, canola oil, flax and chia seeds.
Annual eye exams and other ways to protect your vision
Besides eating a well-balanced diet, there are other ways to protect your vision:
- Know your family’s health history.
- Maintain or achieving a healthy weight.
- Wear sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Quit smoking or never begin smoking.
- Get a yearly comprehensive eye exam.
When was the last time you had your eyes examined? Call your ophthalmologist and schedule a checkup for your whole family. Preventing eye disease is always more manageable and less expensive than treatment. If you need to find an ophthalmologist in your area, we are here to help you. Our eye care centers are located nationwide and are accepting new patients. Make healthy vision a priority.