Nutrition and Your Eyes—Summarized
Since good nutrition is such an important part of maintaining good overall health, it would be reasonable to expect that it would play an important role in maintaining eye health. Diets high in antioxidants (such as vitamin C) and carotenoids (yellow, orange and red vegetables) may slow some of the degenerative processes in the retina that can lead to macular degeneration. Try these foods to make sure you get enough eye-protecting nutrients:
- Vitamin A: cod liver oil, liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: spinach, kale, collard greens.
- Vitamin C: sweet peppers (red or green), kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe.
- Bioflavonoids: citrus fruits, cherries, grapes, plums.
- Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts.
- Selenium: brazil nuts, yeast, seafood.
- Zinc: oysters, hamburgers, wheat, nuts.
- Fatty acids: cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, trout).
In general, you should eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables, two to three servings of fish per week, some nuts and some yellow or orange fruits and vegetables. While vitamins can be obtained by taking supplements, it is best to get as many of these nutrients as possible through your diet. A diet high in fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat, trans fats and sugar will help not only your eyes but also your overall health.
What about carbs? According to study results reported in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating too many “bad carbs” such as refined white flour may increase your risk of developing macular degeneration. Blood sugar spikes caused by consuming foods high in carbohydrates could negatively affect the eyes. Researchers suggested that people instead consume healthier carbs, such as high-fiber fruits and vegetables.
Caution should be exercised regarding three antioxidants: vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E. Vitamin A in excess of 5,000 units has been linked with osteoporosis. Beta-carotene has been associated with lung cancer in smokers. Vitamin E in excess of 400 units has been linked with excessive blood thinning. Patients who are on Coumadin or aspirin should be particularly cautious about vitamin E intake.
Smoking is considered to be a significant risk factor in eye health. Quitting smoking can have significant benefits at any age.
Nutrition and health are lifelong concerns. Don’t wait until you develop an eye problem or other health concern to make changes in your diet.
If you already have vision loss and have been told it cannot be helped by surgery, medicine or glasses, you may want to check out our optical devices. We have a selection of magnifiers and adaptive devices that can help you use your remaining sight more effectively and maintain your independence and quality of life.