Did your parents tell you that eating carrots would help you see in the dark? That sounds like an old wives’ tale, but there’s more truth to it than you might think. Eating the right foods can have a positive impact on your eyesight, so it’s worth your while to learn about nutrition for eye health.
Nutrition for Eye Health
A healthy diet is one of the many tools you can use to keep your eyesight sharp well into your golden years. So, what should you be eating if you want to keep your eyes healthy?
Don’t Skip Your Fruits and Veggies
If you’re exploring nutrition for eye health, start by hitting the produce aisle. Doctors recommend a diet high in vitamins C, E and zinc for improved eye health. Oranges, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and avocados have these nutrients in abundance. They can also be found in olive oil, seeds, and legumes. Zinc can also be found in meat, eggs, and dairy products. All of these vitamins are linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts later in life.
Two other often-overlooked nutrients are lutein and zeaxanthin. These are nutrients that support retinal health by acting as natural “sunglasses,” protecting your retina from light-related damage and degeneration. These nutrients can be found in leafy greens like kale and spinach, as well as pistachios and egg yolks.
Healthy Fats for Healthy Eyes
Avoiding fatty foods is a time-honored piece of nutrition advice. But did you know that some fats can actually be good for your body? Omega-3 fatty acids are what we call “good” fats, because they provide nutrients that are essential to health. They’re especially beneficial for your eyes because they support retinal health – in fact, they can even prevent dry eye. Unfortunately, they aren’t found in every kind of fatty food, so put down those potato chips! Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in certain kinds of fish, like salmon and tuna. If you don’t like seafood, talk to your doctor about a fish oil supplement.
Say Hello to Whole Grains
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a great way to begin exploring nutrition for eye health, but don’t forget the rest of your plate. Complex carbohydrates are linked to an array of eye health issues, ranging from cataracts to diabetes. Replace those complex carbs with whole grains (such as quinoa, brown rice, and oatmeal), which contain important nutrients that promote eye health, like zinc and niacin. Recent studies have shown that replacing complex carbohydrates with whole grains can actually slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
So, consider replacing that bowl of spaghetti with a whole-grain pasta or brown rice. Your eyes will thank you.
Take a Break from Alcohol and Sugar
When discussing nutrition for eye health, what you don’t eat is almost as important as what you do eat. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that alcohol and sugar are not recommended as a part of a healthy diet.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause blurry vision, and can also damage the red blood cells that provide oxygen to your eyes. Increased levels of blood sugar also cause blurry vision and can be an indicator for diabetes. Diabetes is linked to multiple eye health issues, including cataracts and glaucoma. While simply eating sugar is not enough to put you at risk for diabetes, it can lead to health conditions that make diabetes more likely.
If you’re concerned that your diet is affecting your eye health or you believe that you have diabetes, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, consider limiting your consumption of alcohol and sugar.
In general, fresh foods have plenty of the nutrients that you need for eye health, so it’s worthwhile to make the effort to work them into your diet. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but you’ll need more than that to avoid an unplanned trip to the optometrist!
Trying to improve your eye health? If you live in southwest Missouri, Heffington’s is here for you. Whether it’s a simple eye exam or a new pair of glasses, we’re ready to help. To learn more about what we can do, send an email to [email protected] or give us a call at 417-869-3937 (Optiland location) or 417-882-3937 (House of Vision location). We hope to hear from you soon!