In honor of Healthy Vision Month, let’s talk about how our food choices can play a role in protecting our eye health. Did you know that there are nutrients in food that can help maintain eye function, protect the eyes from damaging light, and reduce the risk of developing age or disease related decrease in the quality of eyesight? It’s as easy adding in specific fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats to your meals and snacks. Read below to see how you can make these simple additions.
This nutrient plays a vital role in maintaining the health of our light-sensing cells, or photoreceptors. Over time, vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness. Good sources of vitamin A include liver, eggs, salmon, and dairy. Vitamin A is also found in plant based sources like sweet potato, carrots, leafy greens, and bell peppers.
Eyes need antioxidants to protect them from damage, and vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C is found in large concentrations in the fluid that surrounds the outer eye. Studies suggest that people who have higher vitamin C intake reduce the risk of developing cataracts, a condition that leads to cloudy eyesight. Foods high in vitamin C include papaya, pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, broccoli, bell peppers, and brussels sprouts.
Vitamin E is a fat-based antioxidant for eye health that is found in high concentrations in the retina, the part of the eye that sends visual information to the brain. Almonds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, and olive oil are all foods that are rich in vitamin E.
Another type of fat that is key for good eye health is called omega-3 fatty acid. One form of omega-3 known as DHA is found in large amounts in the retina and provides protection to this area of the eye. Studies also suggest that the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA can reduce eye dryness and reduce the risk of developing eye disease because of diabetes. Good food sources include salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, herring, and sardines. A different type of omega-3 fat known as ALA (our body can transform small amounts of ALA into EPA and DHA) can be found in walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These are two antioxidants found in green and yellow vegetables. They help to protect your eyes from damage. Eat foods like spinach, swiss chard, kale, parsley, pistachios, peas, egg yolks, and corn to get more lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet. These antioxidants are best absorbed with a fat source, so pair these foods with healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, or olive oil.