How to keep your eyes healthy with the right nutrition
National Eye Health Week is just around the corner, the perfect time to think about how to keep your eyes healthy. Looking at your overall diet is a great starting point. Here, we’ll look at the best foods for eye health according to the nutrients your eyes need.
This vitamin is important in the production of rhodopsin, a protein in your eyes that allows you to detect light and plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy cornea. Good sources of vitamin A include bell peppers, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes.
This is an antioxidant that works to protect your cells from damage by free radicals.Studies suggest that it can significantly reduce the risk of developing cataracts, and it can be found in citrus fruits, broccoli and kale.
Vitamin E enhances the protection that vitamin C provides and is often used in nutrition supplements for those who suffer with age related macular degeneration (AMD). Good sources include salmon, almonds, avocados, and sunflower seeds.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin belong to a family of proteins called carotenoids and can be found in the macula and retina at the back of your eyes. They help to protect the retina against damaging UV light, as well as preventing the onset of diabetic retinopathy, AMD and cataracts. You can find these two essential eye nutrients in pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, eggs, and sweetcorn.
This fatty acid helps to form the cells that make up your eyes as well as protecting them against inflammation, which could potentially help to prevent diabetic retinopathy. Experts believe it could also alleviate the symptoms of dry eye by encouraging tear production. You can find Omega 3 in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.
This mineral helps to transport vitamin A to your eye to produce melanin – the pigment that provides UV protection for your eyes. It’s important for maintaining a healthy retina and is found in chickpeas, lentils, milk, eggs, quinoa, and nuts.
While you’re making sure you include all of these nutrients and vitamins for eye health in your diet, try reducing foods that are bad for your eyes at the same time too, including foods:
That are high in sugar – e.g. sauces and sweets - these increase your risk of diabetes, which damages your retina
That are fried – e.g. chips and crisps - these increase your cholesterol, a known risk factor that contributes towards vision loss
That are high in salt – e.g. - smoked, cured, or tinned meat - these increase your blood pressure, which can damage your retina.
Good nutrition is just one factor in protecting your eye health. Keeping up with regular eye exams is the most important way of maintaining good vision and eye health, as they allow us to spot the early signs of disease, damage or changes in prescription.
Why not use this National Eye Health Week to reflect on how you are taking care of your eyes and what changes could be made to help them? If you feel you need to be seen by an optometrist, or know you’re due for your next appointment, contact us today to book in your next eye exam for your peace of mind.