The set of eyes you have right now are the only ones you’ll get for the rest of your life, so it’s important to take good care of them.
You probably remember your mom yelling at you about standing too close to the TV or reading in the dark, and she wasn’t wrong. But it’s not enough to try to avoid damaging your eyes, it’s important to be proactive in keeping them healthy.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to watch what you eat and opt for foods good for eye health.
While we focus on providing LASIK for better eyesight, we want you to maintain the best health for your eyes.
But First, Vitamins
Before we dive into which foods you should be chowing down on, let’s take a minute to talk about vitamins.
The biggest reason that your eye health is affected by the food you eat is that that’s how your body gets nutrients. If your diet consists of Twinkies and tater tot’s, you probably aren’t feeding your eyes all of the vitamins they need to stay healthy.
Some of the best vitamins for eye health are vitamins A, E, and C. Additionally, some important micronutrients are zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Let’s break down these vitamins and micronutrients.
Vitamin A is the most well-known vitamin for eye health, and for good reason.
Vitamin A is crucial for maintaining a healthy and clear cornea. The cornea is the clear outer coating that covers your eye and protects it.
Vitamin a is also found in rhodopsin, which is a protein found in your eyes that helps you see in poor lighting.
Studies also show that those with a diet rich in vitamin a had reduced risk of cataracts and AMD, or age-related macular degeneration.
Vitamin E is famous for being an antioxidant, which is critical not only for your eyes but for your overall health as well.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that are found in the body. They are associated with aging and hosts of diseases. While their role in the human body is not fully understood, we do know that where there are free radicals, there is cell damage.
Antioxidants work to balance the free radicals in your body. They do this by sharing electrons with the free radicals, causing them to stabilize before they can do any damage to your cells.
Studies show that diets high in vitamin E help to prevent cataracts and can be used as a potential treatment for AMD.
You’re always told that you should take vitamin C to prevent a cold, but did you know that vitamin C can help protect your cornea and sclera?
Vitamin C is a crucial ingredient for collagen, a protein that your body makes. Collagen protein gives your eye its structure.
Studies have shown that vitamin C is quite effective in reducing the risk of cataracts. One study suggested a 75% risk reduction when vitamin C supplements over 490mg were taken daily.
We talked about why vitamin A is so vital for your eyesight, but what about zinc?
Zinc is considered a “helper molecule” because it “helps” the body transport vitamin A from the liver to the retina. You’ll find high concentrations of zinc in the retina and choroid.
Zinc deficiencies have been linked to impaired vision and cloudy cataracts.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Both of these nutrients are part of the carotenoid family and are found only in plants.
They are found in the macula and retina in your eyes. Scientists believe that they help to filter harmful blue light from your eyes.
Several studies show that these compounds help prevent cataracts and AMD.
Unfortunately, there have not been enough studies to establish a recommended daily dose of lutein or zeaxanthin. Until then, it’s important to incorporate these micronutrients into your dietary plan.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Yes, these fatty acids are completely necessary. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat, which is the good kind of fat.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found at high concentrations in your retina.
Scientists also believe that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help to prevent or treat dry eye disease.
Foods Good for Eye Health
Now that you’re well-versed in which vitamins and micronutrients are particularly good for your eye health, let’s take a look at some foods that are fully stocked with everything you need.
Remember that it’s not enough to eat one or two things every now and then. It’s important to have a healthy diet that is well-balanced every day.
On average, Americans are only getting about two servings of vegetables per day, when The USDA recommends having 13 servings per day. This may seem like a lot, but it’s critical for your body that you’re giving it the nutrients it needs not just to survive, but to thrive.
Carrots are number one on the list because they are like a Goldmine for people who are looking for healthy eye foods.
They are packed full of vitamin A and beta carotene (a form of vitamin A particularly helpful in eye health).
Carrots are the perfect on the go snack and can be used in a variety of foods from salads to cakes.
Remember, carrot cake is good for your health.
Fish is great for your eyes, especially salmon. Salmon, among others, is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Unless you are pregnant or breast-feeding (as fish can have high levels of mercury), you should try to incorporate fish into your meals at least twice a week.
Be sure to purchase wild-caught salmon, as opposed to farm-raised. Farm-raised salmon is known to have less omega-3s (good fat) and more saturated fat (bad fat).
3. Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens have so many different vitamins and micronutrients that they should be a requirement for your daily meal prep.
Kale, in particular, is a superfood and is rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin. You can eat can in virtually any form (raw, cooked, purred, and even chip form),
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes, like carrots, or high in beta carotene in vitamin A. In fact, most orange fruits and vegetables, including cantaloupe, mangoes, and apricots will be high in beta carotene.
Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C. Just one sweet potato has more than half of the recommended daily dose Vitamin C.
You’re probably aware of the egg white craze. Egg white omelets Are widely associated as healthier and diet-friendly. This is because egg yolks are known to be high in cholesterol.
What you might not have known is that egg yolks are actually high in vitamin A, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
We don’t recommend having just an egg yolk for breakfast, but you might want to reconsider the egg white only omelet.
6. Citrusy Fruits
The all-important vitamin C is found here, in oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits.
Aside from having a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning, you can add orange segments to salads, smoothies, or just eat them fresh.
Nuts, almonds, in particular, are great for eye health because they contain vitamin E.
Add almonds or other nuts to your morning cereal bowl or add a small baggy to your lunchbox.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s especially important to watch your serving size, as nuts tend to be high in fat. 1/4 cup is usually the sweet spot.
Summer squash and fall gourds are the perfect treat for your eyes. Squash is high in lutein and zeaxanthin, As well as vitamin C and zinc.
Winter squash is known to have vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids also.
Add squash to stirfrys, salads, or even soups.
Eat Right; See Right
Here’s the bottom line, eating sweet potatoes and squash every day is not going to prevent your eyes from deteriorating with age. That’s just a part of life. But, if you are proactive in taking care of your eyes, you avoid eyestrain and eat foods good for eye health, you’re likely to prolong the health of your eyes well into your later years.
If you’re already experiencing problems with low vision, you might want to consider learning more about LASIK Vision Correction.