When it comes to optimizing your overall health, the best place to start is through a diet of natural, nutrient-rich whole foods. And, the same can be said about your eye health, since certain vitamins and nutrients are necessary in reducing the damaging effects of oxidation, preventing glaucoma, reducing macular degeneration, and other factors critical to the well-being of your sight.
In fact, without ample amounts of certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, you risk degeneration of your eyesight, which is something that doesn’t come back once it’s gone. Sure, there are corrective lenses and surgeries available, although they don’t work for every condition, and who wants the expense or experience of surgery or lenses? Instead, it is better to preserve what you already have, which you can do with the help of good nutrition.
And, to help you understand just which foods and nutrients your eyes need for optimum health, here are the top 7 foods to protect your eye health, and why you need to include them in your diet.
Vitamins to Improve Eyesight
Just as with the rest of your body, the health of your eyes relies on vitamins and nutrients for protection, rejuvenation, and resilience. There are other benefits to a diet rich in foods and supplements which are beneficial to your eyes, since there is no such thing as vitamins or nutrients which work only for your eyes, or only for your skin, etc. Instead, all vitamins perform multiple functions in the body – such as vitamin C playing roles in both ocular and heart health – and many vitamins and minerals also work in synchronicity with each other.
However, for now we will focus on nutrients which benefit your eye health, and which foods are the best sources of them.
Top 7 Foods to Protect Your Eye Health
1. Leafy Greens, such as Kale, Collard Greens, or Spinach—Lutein and zeaxanthin are two nutrients known of as “carotenoids,” which are plant pigments meant to absorb light rays to prevent them from damaging the plant. It is also thought that since they are found in high concentrations in the macula of the eye, they are responsible for absorbing excess light rays which cause oxidative retina damage.
In fact, many studies have concluded that both lutein and zeaxanthin can help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and may help slow progression of it. This is why a diet high in leafy greens and multicolored vegetables is not only good for your overall health and well-being, it can help you continue to see well into your latter years. (1)
2. Carrots and Sweet Potatoes—When it comes to the color of your vegetables, the broader the spectrum the better. This includes adding plenty of beta-carotene-rich orange foods to your plate, which may help guard your eyes against ADS and cataracts when consumed in combination with zinc, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C. (2)
The best evidence of beta-carotene working to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration is perhaps the National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or AREDS trial, in which high amounts of the aforementioned combination of zinc, copper, vitamin E and Vitamin C were proven to reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration by around 25%. (3)
3. Cherries and Blueberries—Not only are these dark-colored fruits a tasty, they can help you see better for a longer period of time. This is because both contain substances known of as “bioflavonoids,” which are plant polyphenols that are responsible for the deep, rich color of these fruits.
However, bioflavonoids—or just flavonoids, if you prefer—are also powerful antioxidants which may protect against cataracts and macular degeneration. In fact, a recent study found that, “It is apparent that flavonoids are capable of acting on various mechanisms or etiological factors responsible for the development of different sight-threatening diseases,” which include cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and dry eye syndrome. (4)
4. Fresh Cold-Water Fish, Flax and Avocados—Whether from an animal or vegetarian source, omega-3 fatty acids have some important health benefits, not the least of which is in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.
This is because omega-3 fatty acids can modulate the metabolic process of oxidative stress, inflammation and vascularization, as well as some other key functions.
For instance, DHA, which is a fatty acid component of omega-3, also occurs in large amounts in the retina, and adequate, natural sources of it are critical to eye health. DHA also affects retinol cell-signaling mechanisms that are involved in photo transductions—or in other words, it helps to enable your eyes to pick up images and display them to your brain so that you can see. (3)
Selenium deprivation has also been shown to cause cataracts in rats and mice due to targeted gene disruption. And, while more testing on its direct effect on eye maladies such as
age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, or cataracts in humans needs to be performed, selenium may have a positive effect on these aspects of ocular health, possibly due to its role in helping with the absorption of vitamin E, along with other possible factors. (6)
6. Nuts, such as Almonds or Sunflower Seeds—Your ocular health relies on antioxidants, and vitamin E is a powerful one. This is because free radicals are the bane of healthy eyesight (as well as many other aspects of your overall health), and antioxidants are the best defense against them. For vitamin E, it goes further, since it prevents a chain reaction of lipid oxidation when it attacks free radicals. Since the retina is composed of a high concentration of fatty acids, this means that vitamin E acts as a type of overall protector of the retina.
However, it should also be noted that once a vitamin E molecule neutralizes a free radical, its antioxidant capacity is lost. But, certain other antioxidant vitamins—such as vitamin C—can revive and regenerate the antioxidant properties of vitamin E, which speaks to the aforementioned synchronistic nature of many nutrients.
7. Citrus Fruits—Not only does vitamin C help to improve the health of the eye’s capillaries and blood circulation, studies show that it can help guard against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. As previously mentioned, it helps vitamin E regain its antioxidant properties after having been neutralized, and vitamin C in itself is also a powerful antioxidant.
In fact, one study showed that women taking vitamin C regularly for a 10-year period showed up to a 64% reduction in their risk of developing nuclear cataracts.
The AREDS study also indicates that when taken with vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc, vitamin C slowed the advancement of age-related macular degenerationby up to 25%, as well as visual acuity loss by up to 19%, which is reason enough to enjoy oranges, tangerines, limes and other vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables every day. (7)
What about Supplemental Vitamins for Eyesight?
Our busy modern lives often make it hard to eat a balanced diet of healthy, whole foods, and we oftentimes find ourselves eating on the run, missing meals, or relying on less than nutritious—though convenient—food options. Add to this modern farming and shipping practices which leave conventional foods lacking in nutrition, and we have reason to seek high-quality supplements to ensure our daily nutrition.
And, while you can utilize an entire slew of various eye vitamins each day, it is far more convenient and cost-effective to use a daily formula which covers all your eye health needs in one convenient capsule, such as Hotze Vitamins Eye Restore can provide. Not only can Eye Restore help you maintain your vision longer and reduce your odds of many macular diseases, it is a completely vegetarian blend of nutrients and antioxidants with superior bioavailability—all of which you should look for in a complete ocular health supplement.
Other things you should look for are natural, plant-based sources of such nutrients as zeaxanthin and lutein, and products that are free of dyes, fillers, chemicals, or preservatives are also recommended.
Your eye health is just like other aspects of your body’s health, in that it requires proper and complete nutrition to function in a healthy manner and to help ward off disease. By adhering to a diet rich in nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and other natural whole foods which are preferably organic, you can better ensure that not just your eye health—but your overall health—are with you for years to come.
So, enjoy some oranges, beta-carotene-rich yams, fresh salmon with green leafy vegetables, nuts to snack on, and perhaps some blueberries and cherries for desert—they taste great, and no one will need glasses to see how healthy they keep you looking!