Foods to Boost Your Eye HealthDecember 17, 2018
People often think their eyesight will inevitably fail due to eye strain or aging. However, living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of vision issues, especially if you’re eating the best foods for eye health.
Most people know eating healthy will help to keep your heart healthy. Fortunately, the same is true for the health of your eyes. Consuming a diet low in fat and rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can benefit your heart and your eyes.
The connection between healthy foods and good eye health isn’t surprising. Your eyes depend on tiny arteries for nutrients and oxygen, much like your heart depends on larger arteries. By maintaining the health of these arteries, you will help your eyes. Some foods to boost your eye health stand out as especially helpful.
Organizations like the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Optometric Association (AOA) continue to recommend nutrients and foods for healthy eyes, including those based on Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) results. The AREDS is a prominent clinical trial sponsored by the federal government’s National Eye Institute and was created to learn more about the risk factors and histories of the age-related eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
Vitamins and Minerals That Boost Eye Health
Below are essential nutrients that could help slow or halt certain eye diseases as well as boost eye health.
1. Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These non-pro-vitamin A carotenoids are antioxidants of interest because they concentrate their benefits in your eye’s macula. Consuming carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables regularly, including lutein and zeaxanthin, might reduce your risk of AMD.
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include kale, eggs, collard greens, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, corn, and romaine lettuce.
2. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin C is an antioxidant you find in both fruits and vegetables. Research suggests this vitamin can lower your cataracts risk. Also, when you take Vitamin C in combination with other essential nutrients, it can help slow down the progression of age-related visual acuity loss and macular degeneration.
Foods rich in Vitamin C include kiwi, red berries, broccoli, green bell peppers, grapefruit, guava juices, oranges, and spinach.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant you’ll find in fortified cereals, nuts, and sweet potatoes. Studies show it can protect the eye’s cells from free radicals, which break healthy tissue down.
Foods rich in Vitamin E include nuts, vegetable oils, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
4. Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene
Beta-carotene is a precursor of Vitamin A. This fat-soluble retinoids group — including retinal, retinol, and retinyl esters — is essential for vision. Vitamin A supports conjunctival membranes and a healthy cornea, and it’s necessary for rhodopsin — a light-sensitive protein that turns light into electrical signals.
Foods rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotene include carrots, eggs, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, and squash.
5. Vitamins B6, B9, and B12
Researchers have found that taking vitamins B6, B9, and B12 in combination can reduce the risk of developing AMD. One study found women who took 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 with vitamins B6 and B9 had a 34 percent reduction in their risk of AMD.
Foods high in vitamins B6, B9, and B12 include cantaloupe, dark leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, eggs, fish, and papayas.
6. Essential Fatty Acids
Fats are an integral part of your diet. They maintain your nervous system’s integrity, boost the immune system, and fuel cells. Studies show omega-3 fatty acids are essential for retinal function and proper visual development.
Foods rich in essential fatty acids include flax seeds, salmon, sardines, soybeans, and walnuts.
7. Niacin (B3)
A recent population-based study suggests that low levels of niacin may link to glaucoma. Glaucoma is a term covering a group of conditions that can cause blindness due to damage to the optic nerve, typically because of high pressure in the eye.
Foods rich in niacin include anchovies, avocado, chicken breast, liver, tuna, and turkey.
Zinc is known as a helper molecule. As an essential trace mineral, it plays a significant role in delivering Vitamin A to the retina from the liver to produce your eye’s protective pigment called melanin. Zinc is highly concentrated in your eye, mainly in your retina and in your choroid — the layer of vascular tissue under your retina.
Foods rich in zinc include fortified breakfast cereals, poultry, milk, nuts, oysters, and soy foods.
Based upon a second study by AREDS revealing that taking high concentrations of certain vitamins could slow the progression AMD in a large percentage of people, the National Eye Institutes recommends people at high risk for AMD consider taking two milligrams of copper to replace what you lose when you take zinc.
Copper, acting as an antioxidant, can impede the progression of AMD by encouraging flexible, healthy connective eye tissue.
Foods high in copper include dark chocolate, liver, oysters, seeds, shiitake mushrooms, and nuts.
You can’t substitute the quality of life excellent vision offers. By adding certain nutrients like these above to your daily diet, either through the food you eat or supplements, you’re helping to preserve your vision.
Foods to Boost Your Eye Health
Below are the top 16 foods to improve eyesight without glasses.
Oily fish have oil in their body tissue and gut, therefore, eating them provides you with high levels of omega-3-rich fish oil.
Studies have shown fish oil reverses dry eye conditions as well as dry eyes caused by too much computer usage. Salmon provides a good Vitamin D source, helping to protect against macular degeneration.
Other studies suggest omega-3 rich diets from cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, halibut, and sardines reduce a person’s risk of developing eye disease later on in life. A 2010 study from Johns Hopkins found individuals who had an omega-3 fatty acid rich diet were far less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration.
Certain fish contain the most beneficial omega-3 levels, including:
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Just a single cup of either cooked spinach or kale contains over 20 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients are great for eye health, reducing your risk of age-related cataracts and macular degeneration.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, acting like a natural sunscreen for the eyes. Women who had high lutein diets were nearly 25 percent less likely to develop cataracts than their low-lutein diet counterparts, according to a study.
Carrots, along with other orange, yellow, and leafy green vegetables and fruits, are a great source of Vitamin A. Their color comes from beta-carotene. Your intestines make Vitamin A using beta-carotene, helping your eyes convert light into brainwaves. It’s also an essential element of your corneas. A deficiency in Vitamin A causes blindness in up to a half a million children every year.
4. Oranges and Other Citrus Fruits
Oranges and other citrus fruits like tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit are rich in Vitamin C which is an antioxidant crucial to your eye health. Researchers found the eyes require relatively high levels of Vitamin C to properly function, and antioxidants can delay or prevent AMD and cataracts.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and help slow down the progression of macular degeneration. Beta-carotene helps prevent night blindness and dry eyes. Both Vitamin A and beta-carotene help reduce your risk for eye infections.
Recent research has found a connection between consuming blueberries and better blood pressure. Tufts University’s scientists continue exploring how blueberries protect your brain. Over three-dozen new clinical trials are studying the potential benefits of blueberries for their health benefits, including for vision.
Blueberries are loaded with vitamins and minerals. These nutritious elements could aid in preventing conditions that could result in impaired vision.
Blueberries have 14 milligrams of Vitamin C per cup. This vitamin protects your body from unstable molecules, or free radicals, that can cause disease and damage your eyes. It can help reduce intraocular pressure which decreases your chances of developing glaucoma. It also helps maintain eye connective tissue, potentially preventing macular degeneration.
Blueberries also contain Vitamin E which could stop cataract formation.
7. Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are high in zinc, an essential trace mineral found in the eyes in high concentration. Zinc might help protect the eyes from light’s damaging effects.
8. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are also rich in a variety of antioxidants, particularly carotenoids, which are much more plentiful when ripe. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in bell peppers in fairly high amounts and could improve eye health substantially when you consume them in adequate amounts.
They help to protect your retina from oxidative damage.
Various studies suggest regularly consuming carotenoid-rich foods might cut your risk of both macular degeneration and cataracts.
To put it simply, by adding bell peppers to your diet, you could lower your risk of visual impairments.
When you don’t get enough zinc, your eyes can suffer from potential cataracts and poor night vision. Oysters are a good source of zinc. Oysters are also high in copper, which can be helpful in deterring the progression of AMD. Nearly five milligrams of copper contains 243 percent of your recommended daily value for copper.
Like legumes and nuts, seeds are a rich source of Vitamin E and are high in omega-3s.
Omega-3-rich seeds include flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
For an extra boost of nutrients, start adding chia seeds to your diet. They contain more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon or flax seeds, more antioxidants than blueberries, and more calcium than a glass of milk. They’re also a good way of getting your fiber in your diet.
11. Nuts and Legumes
Vitamin E protects your eye’s cells from free radicals. It also slows the progression of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Eating an ounce of almonds, sunflower seeds, or other shelled seeds will help you obtain over a third of the daily Vitamin E value.
The yolks in eggs contain zinc. A zinc deficiency is associated with mental sluggishness and poor night vision, the American Optometric Association reveals.
Beef is also rich in zinc — and associated with better long-term eye health. Zinc may help delay macular degeneration and age-related sight loss. Your eye itself has high zinc levels, especially your retina and the surround vascular tissue. Meats like pork loin and chicken breast also contain zinc, but the levels aren’t as high as they are in beef.
Turkey is an all-purpose protein that tastes great in burgers, chili, sandwiches, tacos, and more. It’s packed with B-vitamin niacin and zinc and helps prevent cataracts.
Corn is a sweet vegetable rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These two micronutrients protect against things like:
- Damaging high-energy blue light wavelengths from televisions, computers, and smartphones
- Harm from sunlight
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoke
Corn is delicious whether frozen, fresh, or canned.
Broccoli is loaded with antioxidants to nourish and protect the eyes from cell damage. Broccoli also has high levels of the Vitamin B2 riboflavin, helping the eyes adapt to light changes. But, when you boil broccoli, you destroy this vitamin. Therefore, you’ll want to roast or steam it instead. Power up its benefits by topping it with a little lemon juice and olive oil.
17. Dairy Products
Dairy products like yogurt and milk can be good for your eyes. They have Vitamin A and zinc in them. Vitamin A helps protect the cornea and zinc helps deliver the vitamin to your eye from your liver. You have zinc throughout your eye, particularly in the retina and the vascular tissue underneath the retina. This essential mineral helps you with night vision along with preventing cataracts. Grass-fed cow’s dairy provides the most benefits.
Tips to Boost Your Eye Health
Your eyes are an essential part of your health. You have a variety of things you can do to ensure your eyes are healthy, and you can see your best. Some simple tips you can follow to maintain healthy eyes are:
1. Get a Dilated Eye Exam
You may think you have good vision or your eyes are healthy, but only an eye care professional who gives you a dilated eye exam can know for sure. Some individuals with common vision problems don’t realize contact lenses or eyeglasses could help them see better. Also, many common eye diseases like diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration often form without any warning signs. An eye doctor’s dilated eye exam can detect these types of diseases in their earlier stages.
2. Obtain Your Family Eye Health History
Talk with your family about their eye health history. It’s essential you know if anyone in your family has received a diagnosis for an eye condition or disease since some may have a hereditary risk factor. Knowing your family’s eye history can help you determine if you’re at a higher risk of developing an eye condition or disease so you can get checked and treated promptly.
3. Keep a Healthy Weight
Being obese or overweight will increase your risk of developing systemic conditions, like diabetes, which can result in vision loss from glaucoma or diabetic eye disease. If you’re having issues maintaining a healthy weight, speak with your doctor.
4. Wear Protective Eyewear
Protective eyewear can protect your eyes when you’re doing activities around the home or are playing sports. Protective eyewear may include goggles, safety glasses, and eye guards specially made for providing correct protection from a specific activity. Many protective eyewear lenses contain polycarbonate, which is much stronger than other plastics.
5. Quit Smoking or Don’t Start
Smoking is harmful to your eyes, just like it is the rest of your body. Studies have shown an association between smoking and an increased risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and optic nerve damage — all can result in blindness. Smoking links to developing diabetic neuropathy and dry eye syndrome.
6. Wear Sunglasses
While sunglasses make a great fashion accessory, they’re also crucial for protecting your eyes from the ultraviolet rays of the sun that can cause both short and long-term eye damage. You’ll want to find a pair that blocks out 100 percent of UV rays. Consider wearing wraparound or oversized sunglasses for the best protection.
7. Give Your Eyes a Rest
If you sit at your computer a lot of time, you may forget to blink, and you’ll cause your eyes to become dry and fatigued. Try looking away every 20 minutes at something that’s 20 feet in front of you for around 20 seconds. This reduces eye strain and can help keep your eyes moisturized.
8. Clean Your Contact Lenses and Hands Properly
Always wash your hands before you put your contact lenses in or take them out to avoid infection. Disinfect your contact lenses as instructed, replacing them when needed.
9. Practice Eye Safety at Work
Employers have to provide a safe work environment, and eye safety is a vital component of a safe jobsite. If you are required to wear protective eyewear as part of your job, make sure you wear them and encourage your coworkers to wear theirs as well.
10. Treat High Blood Pressure
Having untreated high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing an eye disease is known as hypertensive retinopathy, resulting in damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye and impacting your eye’s ability to focus. You can also develop nerve damage, resulting in temporary or permanent vision loss, and fluid buildup under the retina, leading to distorted or impaired vision due to hypertension. High blood pressure can also be a contributing factor for a stroke, and lead to vision loss.
11. Stay Hydrated
Don’t forget about your intake of fluids. Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, can help to flush out the salt in the body and hydrate your eyes properly to minimize eye strain and dry eye.
Explore PRN Products for Eye Care
PRN nutraceuticals are designed to protect and improve eye health. Our Eye Omega Advantage contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin to maintain healthy retina and macular regions in the eye. Our Macular Benefits Package contains the vitamins and antioxidants necessary to protect the healthy cells in your eyes.
PRN is committed to supporting our patients’ health, well-being, and education through outstanding customer service and the use of peer-reviewed clinical research to validate our products’ benefits and safety. We are always up-to-date on research, and we reformulate our products to respond to the ever-evolving body of evidence. We partner with optometrists and ophthalmologists who recommend our evidence-based medical and nutraceutical foods to enhance our patients’ long-term ocular health.
To learn more about PRN nutraceuticals and the products we have to keep your eyes healthy, contact us today. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and help you in any way we can.