Eating for Better Vision
Nutrition is vital to our overall health, and it is now common knowledge that certain foods promote well-being while others can cause disease and illness. We all try to eat well more often than not, but when it comes to our vision, we must make the best food choices we can.
Some foods support the healthy aging of our eyes and are relatively easy to include in a daily diet, such as dark green leafy vegetables. When considering your nutrition, look for foods in season and easily found at your local grocery store, farmer’s market or garden.
Top Choices for Supporting Your Vision and Why
As we make our way through the grocery aisles, what foods should we be shopping for? It’s essential to consider the nutrients contained within each food, so whole and natural foods are always the best choices. The proper nutrients in the right amounts are vital to our eyesight. For example, Harvard Health states that:
- Some evidence shows that dietary antioxidant vitamins and minerals (A, C, E and the mineral zinc) may help prevent the progression of macular degeneration.
As age-related macular degeneration is a global leading cause of vision loss, choosing foods rich in the nutrients mentioned earlier is well advised. To find a great source of Vitamin A, look for spinach, carrots, mango, sweet potatoes, raw red peppers and cantaloupe. Vitamin C can be found in many delicious foods, such as grapefruit, kiwis, oranges and strawberries. Vitamin E is found in peanut butter, almonds, spinach and wheat germ.
As you can see, these are foods that are not exotic or hard to find, so they can be added to your daily diet. The mineral zinc is also an easy nutrient to include in your day. Foods rich in zinc include meat and vegetarian options: chickpeas, red meat, yogurt and pork. Harvard Health offers this simple rule when looking for the right foods to eat: “You'll want to concentrate on yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, plus egg yolks and fatty, cold-water fish.” So, the proper nutrients are affordable, available and easy to prepare.
Two nutrients critical for great vision are less familiar to most of us, and these are Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These two antioxidants protect our vision and are typically found together in foods, mainly vegetables, making your meal planning that much easier! Adding a few of these foods to your diet daily is a positive move for your overall health and vision: kale, papayas, squashes, Brussels sprouts, eggs, corn and collard greens. Considering that research suggests that Lutein and Zeaxanthin may help protect again age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, including these delicious foods in your daily diet is a straightforward choice.
You are likely familiar with Omega 3 Fatty Acids; this nutrient has long been recognized as being crucial for heart health and overall well-being. The National Institue of Health describes Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
- Omega-3s are essential components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. DHA levels are especially high in the retina (eye), brain and sperm cells. Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands).
Omega 3 Fatty Acids can be found naturally in many foods such as nuts, seeds and plant oils, as well as cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, herring and sardines. Another source of this valuable nutrient is found in some fortified foods such as some brands of eggs, soy products, infant formulas and some dairy products.
Worst Choices for Supporting Your Vision and Why
In terms of your eye health, are there any foods that should be avoided? The short answer is yes! Further, poor vision can result from not eating the right foods either; poor nutrition can lead to vision damage and loss. While avoiding unhealthy foods is essential, eating the right foods is even more critical. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that:
- Dietary deficiencies are rare in the developed world because of easy nutritious food access and vitamin fortification in our foods,” Dr. Lee said. “But it can occur in patients who are medically malnourished (e.g., chronic alcoholism), are strict vegetarians, have had gastrointestinal surgery (e.g., bariatric procedures) or have an eating disorder (e.g., anorexia nervosa).
It should come as no surprise, then, that the foods that damage our overall health are also terrible options for our vision and eye health. The choice is simple and easy; avoid heavily processed and manufactured foods such as fried foods, fatty foods, packaged cookies, cakes and pies. This list also includes many of your drive-thru and fast-food food offerings.
Is LASIK Right for Me?
LASIK eye surgery may correct specific vision problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The surgeon will use lasers to reshape the cornea, thereby restoring the vision. If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, talk to your optometrist about LASIK to see if you are a good candidate for this commonly performed surgery. Your optometrist is your eye expert and will also offer guidance on the proper nutrition for your vision.