Clear vision is essential for just about any task you do. For that reason, you want to keep your eyes healthy for many years to come. It may come as a surprise for most adults that one in six people age 45 and above has some form of eye disease that threatens their sight, like cataracts and macular degeneration. People often believe that blurring eyesight is an inevitable part of aging, but a healthy diet can significantly reduce that risk.
Your Eyes And Your Diet
According to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), certain nutrients – vitamin C and E, copper, zinc, and beta carotene – may reduce the chance of age-related eye problems by 25 percent. Initially published in 2001, this research was updated in 2013, which they named AREDS2, to assess various versions of the original formula. The additional models included lutein, zeaxanthin, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. The results showed that specific combinations may work better than others.
Further investigations revealed that copper, zeaxanthin, lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids (including DHA), are vital for good eyesight. In this article, we look at the evidence for the most nutritious foods you can include in your diet to boost your eye health. We also share other tips to help take care of aging eyes and ways to recognize warning signs of common diseases.
Pack On Antioxidants
Recent studies have shown that antioxidants may reduce the progression of cataracts. Findings from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that higher levels of vitamin C in the diet were linked to lower risk of cataracts. The Beaver Dam Eye Study also proves the many benefits of vitamin C and E for the eyes.
Given the positive association between nutrition and eye health, you should consider increasing the amount of certain antioxidants you consume in your daily meals. The National Cancer Institute currently recommends eating five servings of certain fruits and vegetables every day. Choose brightly colored or dark green fruits and vegetables to obtain the most needed nutrients for your eyes. These foods will protect your peepers from free radicals that can cause age-related eye diseases.
Zeaxanthin and lutein are plant pigments, also called carotenoids, that have been proven to defend the retina from oxidative changes brought about by ultraviolet light. Excellent food sources of these vitamins include kale, spinach, peas, broccoli, and sweet corn. Vitamin is another nutrient that is essential for healthy vision. You can get it from yellow and orange vegetables such as squash and carrots.
Limit Your Consumption Of Red Meats
Many people turn to red meat for protein, but research shows that consuming this at least 10 times a week can increase the risk of developing severe vision loss by 50 percent. Choose your sources of protein wisely. Also, remember that the fat content of meats and the cooking method used to prepare them also changes their nutritional content. In fact, fried foods are some of the worst things to eat if you want a healthy vision.
Lean meats, nuts, fish, and eggs are friendly protein picks. Chicken breast is one of the most popular protein-rich foods. It is delicious, healthy, and very easy to cook. Tuna and shrimp are high in various nutrients and contains plenty of omega-3 fats. Be sure to consult with a dietician as well as your eye doctor for the recommended daily protein intake.
Go For Whole Grains
Instead of eating foods that contain high amounts of refined sugars and white flour, use whole grains instead. These are packed with nutrients including fiber, protein, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (copper, zinc, iron) that are excellent for the eyes. Virtually every cereal or snack these days promote “whole-grain goodness,” but be mindful of what you pick. It may sound healthy, but most of the time it’s just empty advertising.
Know your whole grains and scan the packaging. Look for 100% whole wheat flour, quinoa, triticale, wild rice, buckwheat, or sorghum when you go to the supermarket. The good news is that you can find many whole-grain products that use lighter whole wheat and new processing techniques that remove the “grainy” taste that most people are not particularly fond of.
Include Healthy Fats
The omega-3s are known as the healthy fat for your eyes. You can find them in fish, walnuts, canola, flaxseed oil, and various seafood. In a study of more than 32,000 women between the ages 45 and 84, those who consumed at least two servings of tuna per week had a considerably lower risk of dry eye than those who ate one or fewer servings weekly.
You can take fish oil supplements if you are concerned that you’re not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from your diet. Experts agree that food sources are best, but supplements can substitute if necessary.
Recommended Daily Intake
The following nutrients are suggested by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to slow the progression of eye disease. However, be sure to consult with a health professional first before taking any supplements.
- 2 mg of copper oxide
- 2 mg zeaxanthin
- 10 mg Lutein
- 80 mg of zinc oxide
- 400 international units of vitamin E
- 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
Other Eye Care Tips
Excessive sun exposure can cause cataracts, so make sure you wear sunglasses outside. If you have to work with dangerous chemicals or possible eye irritants, make it a point to wear proper eye protection. With diabetes being a leading cause of blindness, affected people should take medications exactly as prescribed by their doctor and religiously monitor their blood sugar levels.
If you are experiencing vision trouble like seeing distorted images and floaters and having frequent changes in visual clarity, go to your eye doctor to get checked. A comprehensive eye exam can help pinpoint what’s causing these changes.
Following a diet that features fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats is a surefire way to get the right nutrition for your eyes. People who cannot get these nutrients should ask an eye doctor about eye health supplements.