Because of the time people spend on computers, cell phones, and watching TV, the number of cases of macular degeneration, a condition that causes progressive damage to the retina resulting in a gradual loss of vision, has been on the rise. In addition to exercising your eyes, maintaining a well-balanced, healthy diet is key to keeping your eyes in good shape.
Serious eye conditions may be avoided if you include foods that contain a range of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, known as antioxidants. These antioxidants ward off oxidants that can affect your health in negative ways. Your eyes need many types of antioxidants to stay healthy. These include:
- vitamins A, C, E
- omega-3 fatty acids
Bright orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, are well known to be good for eye health. They get their color from beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, which helps promote healthy vision. Vitamin A and beta-carotene help the surface of the eye, and can also help prevent eye infections and other serious eye conditions.
Eggs are a great food to eat for eye health. The yolks contain vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc, which are all vital to eye health. Vitamin A safeguards the cornea, which is the surface of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin lower the chance of getting serious eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Zinc contributes to the health of the retina at the back of the eye. Zinc also helps you see better at night.
To prevent eye diseases such as macular degeneration, dark green vegetables — such as kale, spinach, collard greens, and dark green lettuce — should definitely be on the menu. That’s because they also contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, two important nutrients that have antioxidant functions in the body and help to prevent cell damage.
So if you are a strict vegetarian, or even if you aren’t, dark green vegetables should be on your list for good eye health.
The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in oily fish — such as salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel — have all sorts of health benefits for your body, including your eyes. In fact, a 2009 study by the National Eye Institute in the United States found that omega-3 fatty acids helped to protect adults from both age-related macular degeneration and dry-eye syndrome.
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds and sunflower seeds, are generally good for eye health. They contain vitamin E, which guards against unstable molecules that target healthy tissue. Consuming regular amounts of vitamin E can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, as well as cataracts.
Oranges and other citrus fruit contain vitamin C, which is key for eye health. The vitamin, found mainly in fresh fruits and vegetables, contributes to healthy blood vessels in your eyes. It can combat the development of cataracts, and in combination with other vitamins and nutrients, age-related macular degeneration.
From chickpeas and kidney beans, to lentils and soybeans, eating beans and other legumes is an easy way to add zinc to your diet. Zinc helps release vitamin A from the liver so that it can be used in eye tissues. Meanwhile, a zinc deficiency can cause deterioration of the macula at the center of the retina.
A healthy diet is essential for eye health. Maintaining a diet high in antioxidants will help to prevent the development of serious eye conditions and ensure your eyes work their best. Try to eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods on a daily basis. See your doctor if you experience problems with your eyes, as early intervention can prevent more serious conditions from developing.
Translated by Audrey Wang