To help prevent things like glaucoma, cataracts, or AMD (age related macular degeneration), and to keep your vision sharp, Andrea Thau, OD, President of the American Optometric Association (AOA), recommends a diet rich in 5 types of vision-boosting nutrients.
Here are the 5 nutrients considered essential for your eye health, and the foods that contain them.
Note: A heart-healthy diet containing fish twice a week and 5 daily fruit and veg servings is considered sufficient, though Thau warns that because everyone is different, it’s advisable to discuss your eye-related diet with your doctor. If, for example, you are prone to certain nutrient deficiencies, you may need supplements.
1. Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that have antioxidant properties. The Glaucoma Research Foundation believes that these two are able to prevent eye damage, by stopping the oxidative stress which damages the optic nerve and leads to problems like glaucoma. These can be found in dark green leaves, which are also rich in nitrate, another nutrient that is essential for reducing oxidative stress.
Eat the following foods: Brussels sprouts, collard greens, squash, nectarines, eggs, corn, broccoli, kale, papayas, romaine lettuce.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
You have probably heard that Omega-3s are great for your heart, but did you know how important they are for your eye health? In particular, there are two omega-3s, DHA and EPA that we need to pay attention to. DHA is found in the retina, and EPA produces DHA from the body. AOA has found that low levels of these can cause AMD and related vision problems. Omega 3 is also, according to Thau, able to moisten dry eyes, thanks to its status as a natural inflammatory.
Eat the following foods: Walnuts, tuna, sardines, salmon, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, halibut.
3. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is the reason why we all remember that carrots are said to help with our sight. Just like lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin A is an antioxidant nutrient that works against the vision damage caused to your eyes by oxidative stress.
Eat the following foods: Sweet potatoes, mangos, spinach, raw red peppers, ricotta cheese, apricots, cantaloupe, carrots.
4. Vitamin C
Amazingly, most of our body cells require the powerful antioxidant qualities of vitamin C to protect themselves from damage. AOA research seems to suggest that by getting your daily amount of vitamin C, you are substantially lowering the risk of cataracts occurring. So, it’s always a good idea to grab yourself an orange (or another vitamin C rich food)!
Eat the following foods: Strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is probably the least understood of all vitamins. Nevertheless, it is very important. Rather like vitamins A and C, E is a powerful antioxidant that around 70% of people (in their 30s in particular) aren’t getting enough of. Thau says research has convinced her that vitamin E combats the free radicals which break down our healthy tissue. This means that vitamin E could be helpful in preventing cataracts and AMD.
Eat the following foods: Yogurt, red meat, Chickpeas, oysters, pork chops.