Many people operate under the mistaken notion that vision problems and eye health conditions are only caused by the natural processes of aging or other more obvious factors like chronic eye strain. While there certainly are eye health problems that are linked to these factors, they are not the only thing that can influence the health and natural function of your eyes.
Lifestyle factors, problems with stress, and even your diet can have a major impact on the health of your eyes as well as the quality of your vision. In 2001 a study known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study or AREDS found that certain key nutrients like zinc, copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, and micronutrients like beta carotene might help reduce the risk of age-related decline in eye health as much as 25-percent.
The AREDS was further updated again in 2013 to test different versions of the original formula. This includes things like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, lutein, which they found work better in certain combinations with beta carotene. Other research studies on the topic also agree that omega-3 fatty acids including DHA, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin are indeed essential to eye health.
While a balanced diet is always a key component for maintaining a healthy body. It turns out there are a few different foods or types of food that will help maintain, or possibly even improve the health of your eyes.
Eating Fish Helps Promote Eye Health
Most fish have some degree of omega-3 fatty acids. However, some fish are rich with this essential nutrient. Oily fish, which are so named, because they have oil in their digestive cavity and other body tissues, have inherently higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. This includes tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and herring.
Some studies have also found evidence that eating fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help problems like dry eye.
Some Nuts And Legumes Have Key Eye Nutrients
Legumes like peanuts and nuts are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Some nuts also contain high levels of vitamin E, which also helps reduce age-related eye damage. The best nuts and legumes for good eye health include, walnuts, Brazil nuts (castañas), cashews, peanuts, and lentils,
Certain Seeds Have Eye Healthy Nutrients
Just like some nuts and legumes, there are certain seeds which contain high levels of omega-3s fatty acids as well as being a good source of vitamin E. Some of the prime contenders to try adding into your diet include, chia seeds, flax seeds, and even hemp seeds
Citrus Fruits Have Eye Healthy Vitamins And Antioxidants
Most people are aware that citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C, which is also a powerful antioxidant that helps fight age-related damage to the eyes. Some of the best options to consider include lemons, oranges, and grapefruits.
Eye-Friendly Nutrients In Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are known to be high in both lutein as well as zeaxanthin. They are also a very good source of vitamin C, which is also an antioxidant that helps fight age-damage to the eyes. Some of the better options include spinach, kale, and collard greens.
Carrots Carry Several Eye Health Benefits
For being a simple root vegetable, carrots are rich in Vitamin A as well as beta carotene. In fact, it is beta carotene that gives carrots their orange color. Vitamin A is also critical for maintaining healthy vision. It is used as a key component in a special type of protein know as rhodopsin, which helps the retina accurately absorb incoming light.
Sweet Potatoes Have A Variety Of Eye Healthy Nutrients
Sweet potatoes have high levels of beta carotene just like carrots. They are also known to be a good source of vitamin E. They are also very versatile in the ways that they can be prepared which make them easy to incorporate into some of your favorite meals.
Some Nutrients In Beef And Lamb Help Support Long-Term Eye Health
As perhaps the reddest of red meats beef is a good source of zinc, which helps support long-term eye health. Research has found that zinc helps delays age-related sight loss as well as problems like macular degeneration. It’s also worth noting that the eyes have a naturally high level of zinc. This is especially true for the retina as well as the surrounding vascular tissues.
The eye itself contains high levels of zinc, particularly in the retina, and the vascular tissue surrounding the retina. Most other meats including pork and chicken do have some zinc in them, but they cannot compare with beef. Lamb is also very high in zinc and it’s fat also has a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs Have Lutein And Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of age-related sight loss. They are found in high levels in eggs which are also good sources of vitamins C, and vitamin E, as well as zinc.
Don’t Forget Good Old-Fashioned Water
It probably seems a little too on the nose, but water is essential for life. The human body is mostly made up of water. This is especially true for the eyes. Acute and chronic problems with dehydration can affect the eyes in a variety of ways. Not the least of which are problems with dry eyes.
Be Mindful Of Your Blood Sugar
It’s well known that untreated or unmanaged diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness. Diabetics need to carefully monitor their blood sugar levels, which may also require taking medications exactly as prescribed by their doctor. Making an active effort to manage your daily carbohydrate intake while also focusing on eating foods that have a low to moderate glycemic index, will go a long way toward preserving the long-term health and function of your eyes.
If you have noticed a problem with your vision, or discomfort with your eyes, and you can’t easily identify the source, the wisest course of action is to set up an appointment with your eye doctor. While some eye problems might be addressed by making simple improvements in your diet, others can threaten your vision quality. Left untreated, some eye health issues can even lead to the permanent loss of peripheral vision or eventual blindness.