People often think that worsening vision is unavoidable with age. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study of 2001, found that certain nutrients found in foods can combat failing vision by 25%. This study was updated in 2013 and new nutrients and vitamins were found to also help maintain eyesight with age. Some of these nutrients in food that provide ocular health benefits include zinc, copper, vitamins C and E, beta carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Some of these substances work better in combination with others. So, what foods will help your eyesight? At Medical Arts Eye Clinic and Optical, we have created a list of 8 foods that provide benefits to your eyes.
1. Red Peppers
Raw red peppers are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is good for the blood vessels in your eyes that work behind your eyeball. These vessels carry blood to and from the eyes, enabling vision while being transparent to let light in. Vitamin C lowers your risk of getting cataracts. Cataracts are when the lens of your eye becomes foggy and cloudy. Peppers are also rich in beta carotene and vitamins A and E. The combination of these healthy substances makes peppers a great choice to eat to prolong eye-aging. Heat will break down vitamin C, so make sure if you are trying this method to keep them raw when you can.
2. Sunflower Seeds and Nuts
Sunflower seeds contain an important antioxidant, vitamin E. Antioxidants are molecules that help fight compounds that can cause harm in your body. One ounce of these seeds and nuts contains half of the recommended amount of vitamin E recommended by the USDA. The nutrients in these foods help slow down age-related macular degeneration. AMD causes the center of the retina to deteriorate. The biggest symptom of AMD is blurry vision. These foods also prevent cataracts. Some other nuts we suggest as a source of vitamin E are hazelnuts, peanuts, and peanut butter.
3. Dark and Leafy Greens
Greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and turnip greens are all high in healthy antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These protect your macula, part of your retina in the back of the eye. Eating these greens will lower your risk of long-term eye diseases such as AMD and cataracts. These foods are also a good source of vitamin C.
4. Salmon and Other Cold Water Fish
Salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and trout are high in omega-3 and fatty acids. Your retinas need two types of fatty acids, DHA and EPA. Omega-3s protect your eyes from glaucoma and AMD. Glaucoma is when the nerve ending connecting the brain to the eye is damaged and can result in blindness if ignored. Low levels of fatty acids from fish are also associated with dry eyes. Dry eyes can be caused by something such as staring at a screen too long.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Orange foods such as sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene. Some other foods that are high in this are cantaloupes, carrots, mangoes, and apricots. Beta-carotene is a form of vitamin A that helps with vision in darkness. A single sweet potato has more than half the Vitamin C you need in a day and twice the amount of vitamin A that doctors recommend.
6. Lean Meat and Poultry
Foods such as oysters, lean red meat, poultry, and fortified cereals are full of zinc. Zinc guides vitamin A from your liver to your retina where it is used to make melanin. This melanin is what protects your eyes. An increase in zinc can decrease the amount of copper in your body, so it is important to balance these options. Copper is needed to form red blood cells. Some beans you can eat to increase zinc and copper at once are black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and lima beans. Oysters have the most zinc per serving of any food, but the other foods listed are also great options.
7. Beans and Legumes
This is a vegetarian or vegan option that is low in fat and high in fiber. Beans and legumes protect and improve night vision and slow down the AMD process. Another great option is chickpeas. As stated above, zinc is an excellent mineral for eyesight and can be found in a variety of foods.
Eggs are a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, both help reduce eye loss from aging. They have high levels of vitamins C and E as well as zinc. The yolk’s color is from the same nutrients as mentioned earlier in orange foods. Eggs help block harmful blue light from screens that damage the retina. They also help produce more pigment in the macula. Macula controls the central vision of your eye.
Now that you know what foods benefit your eye health and prevent aging, here is a recipe for a salad including different ingredients that will help your eyesight. It is full of lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, E, and zinc to help prevent ocular aging.
- 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 cooked chicken breast, sliced diagonally
- ½ cup of peas
- ½ orange pepper
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ½ orange, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup plain nonfat Greek Yogurt*
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 garlic clove
- Minced orange juice from ½ of orange
- Salt and pepper to taste
Arrange all the ingredients on a plate (or in a bowl). Combine all parts of your dressing into a bowl and stir until it is mixed. Pour the dressing over the salad as you wish and serve.
*can be replaced with olive oil for dietary restrictions
How We Can Help
Here at Medical Arts Eye Clinic and Optical, we want to help you preserve your eyesight as you grow older. We aim to provide you with the best optical care possible while providing a one-stop shop for all eye care needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss eye health or to be examined.