You may have heard that old saying; you are what you eat. It couldn’t be more true when it comes to vision care. The food you eat has a direct impact on your eye health and overall well-being, especially as you age. Even if you have a really good eye vision right now, doing what you can to proactively maintain eye health will be helpful as you get older.
Some of the most common vision problems that usually develop in older adults can be a result of underlying health conditions.
- Glaucoma is a condition where your eye’s optic nerve gets damaged. It is one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults over the age of 60.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is common in people aged 50 and above. It is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, leading to reduced or blurred central vision.
- A cataract is another age-related eye disease that causes clouding of the eye’s lens and gets worse with age.
Genetics do play a part in some of these conditions, however, you can significantly reduce the risk of age-related eye disease by adopting a healthy diet.
Nutrients You Need To Keep Your Eyes Healthy
Eyes are made up of nerves, blood vessels, and microscopic arteries. Eyes function like any other part of your body, i.e., they need oxygen as well as a wide range of nutrients to function well. Most of these nutrients are easily found in food:
Vitamin A: It nourishes your corneas and helps create the pigments that allow your retinas to work properly. The leading cause of preventable blindness in children across the globe is actually a deficiency of this essential vitamin. If you want to eat foods rich in vitamin A, include red and orange color fruits and vegetables in your diet; they contain beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
Vitamin E: Eating foods rich in vitamin E can provide eye protection against damaging free radicals, preventing age-related decline in your vision.
Vitamin C: This antioxidant vitamin leads to collagen production which provides structure to your eyes. Several studies have shown that it can prevent cataracts and age-related eye diseases such as AMD.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: These essential fatty acids help reduce the risk of glaucoma caused by high eye pressure. They can also help prevent and treat dry eye syndrome, a condition where your eyes don’t produce enough tears to stay wet.
Minerals and Antioxidants: Studies suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin can protect your eyes from potentially dangerous UV rays in sunlight. There is also evidence that a high level of these two antioxidants is linked with better night vision. Minerals like copper and zinc are also crucial for a healthy retina as they help prevent blurry vision trouble due to constant exposure to sunlight.
10 Foods You Should Eat for Healthy Eyes
According to the National Eye Institute, one way to maintain healthy eyesight is by eating a healthy diet. Now that you know what nutrients you need for healthy visual development, take a look at the following foods that can improve your eyesight and overall health of the eyes:
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, and turnip greens, and other green vegetables like collard greens, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, and broccoli are powerhouses of antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that can reduce the likelihood of developing many eye disorders.
The yolk of eggs contains vitamin A, zinc, and important antioxidants that are all vital to eye health. Including eggs in your breakfast can greatly reduce the risk of vision loss that comes with an aging eye.
Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and tangerines are rich in vitamin C, which contributes to healthy blood vessels in your eyes. It can prevent age-related eye damage by developing and repairing new tissue cells. It should be noted that eating fresh fruits is not the same as drinking a glass of packaged orange juice which is
chock-full of added sugars. Make sure to eat whole fruits whenever you can.
Cold Water Fish
Fish and fish oil supplements are great sources of omega 3 fatty acids which help maintain healthy eyes. Medically reviewed journals have found that eating fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel can prevent dry eyes as well. Just be aware that fish and other seafoods also contain a lot of mercury. Wild caught fish is also good for healing your gut and body tissue from inflammation.
Red Bell Peppers
Due to a high concentration of vitamin C, red bell peppers are really good for the blood vessels in your eyes. Research indicates that incorporating them raw into your diet can lower your risk of getting cataracts.
Beans and Legumes
Kidney beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas are great sources of zinc and bioflavonoids – both of which can help reduce the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration and can protect the retina. Zinc also helps guard the eyes from damaging UV light.
Nuts and Seeds
Flax, chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds are high in omega-3s and vitamin E. The same goes for cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts. Consuming nuts and seeds can protect your eyes against unstable molecules that target healthy tissue.
High-quality beef is rich in zinc and vitamin A, which are highly beneficial for your retina and cornea (the outer layer of the eye). Pork and poultry also contains some
amount of zinc, but not as much as beef.
Black Currant Seed Oil
Black currants are packed with linoleic acid and Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which are also found in vitamin C and can prove beneficial in treating dry eye syndrome. Clinical interventions show that these berries improve the eyes’ ability to see in the dark.
Full of beta carotene, these orange treats help prevent night blindness and dry eyes.
Note: If you are allergic to any of these foods, please talk to your primary care provider or an eye doctor to find alternative sources or the right nutritional supplements for you.
Schedule Your Annual Eye Test Today
Taking control of your diet is the first step toward a healthy lifestyle. Your next step should be to go for an eye examination every year to ensure your eye health is perfect. At VNA Health Care, we offer annual eye exams to catch preventable health issues early. VNA’s vision clinic is located our health center at 400 North Highland Avenue, Aurora IL 60506.
Don’t have insurance? Don’t worry – contact us at (630) 892-4355 to see if you qualify for a free exam and free pair of glasses, courtesy of a generous grant by Lions Club District 1-J.