A Good Eye for Nutrition | 7 Essential Foods & Vitamins for the Eyes

Do you take your vision for granted? It’s understandable if you do. The vast majority of us rely on our vision from the moment we wake up to the moment we turn out the lights. It’s so natural that it’s easy to forget that our eyes need looking after. 

Eating a healthy diet full of vitamins for the eyes is essential to retaining good vision throughout your life. Some vitamins and other nutrients are vital for ongoing eye health and others may help stave off eye diseases so getting adequate amounts in your diet crucial. 

A well-rounded, healthy diet will always give you the best chance at staying on the top of your game, but there are a few nutrients that the eyes specifically rely on.

Read on to discover which vitamins and nutrients you need to look after your eyes and where you can get them from.  

1. Omega-3

The long-chain fatty acids known as omega-3 DHA and EPA play an important role in eye health and may help to prevent diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eye’s blood vessels, leading to vision loss). 

Omega-3 DHA deficiency is also thought to cause reduced retinal function, so getting an adequate amount in your diet is a positive step for eye health. You can find omega-3 in plenty of delicious foods like avocados, flax seeds, and oily fish such as mackerel and salmon.

If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, it’s always best to consult an eye doctor. Prevention is better than a cure, so even if your eyesight is good, visiting a doctor for advice will help you build a plan to keep your eyes healthy for the rest of your life. It’s never too late, and a quick visit could make a big difference. 

2. Lutein

The antioxidant lutein is concentrated at the back of your eye and found to be in direct proportion to the quantity eaten. Along with the antioxidant zeaxanthin, it’s been shown to protect against, and reduce the risk of, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common but serious eye disease. 

Both these antioxidants also protect against blue light, which is harmful to the eyes. In an age when we’re all staring at screens with blue light, it might be more important than ever to get enough of these nutrients! 

Lutein and zeaxanthin are often found together in foods, and you can find them in eggs, spinach, kale, parsley, and red grapes. Yum!

3. Vitamin D

You’ve probably heard that vitamin D is good for you and it’s often found in fortified foods like breakfast cereals to help us get enough in the winter months. But it plays a role in the health of your eyes too. 

Recent research suggests that AMD sufferers have low levels of vitamin D and that getting enough could help prevent this disease. As vitamin D is hugely important for overall health, getting enough is extremely important. 

It’s easy too. Simply go outside! Our bodies generate vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, so try to get outside every day for at least ten minutes.

In darker months, you can source this vitamin from fish like sardines and salmon. It can be found in fortified foods like milk, but sunshine and fish are considerably better sources. 

4. Vitamin C

This everyday vitamin is found in heavy concentration in the aqueous humor of the eye (that’s the jelly bit inside). The more you eat, the more vitamin C your eyes hold and studies have shown that people suffering from cataracts have lower levels

It’s thought that an adequate intake of vitamin C is protective when it comes to cataracts and other eye issues, and luckily it’s easy to find. Get your vitamin C from citrus fruits, dark green vegetables, and tomatoes. 

5. Vitamin A

It’s alarming to know that vitamin A deficiency not only causes blindness but it’s the leading cause of blindness among preschool children in developing nations. This vitamin is crucial to good vision as well as a strong immune system and overall health. 

Vitamin A helps your eye detect light and is directly linked to being able to see clearly, especially at night. While it’s only found as vitamin A in animal products such as dairy and eggs, you can also get provitamin A from plant foods, so vegetarians and vegans don’t need to worry. 

Beef up your diet with foods rich in beta carotene (which your body converts into vitamin A). Beta carotene can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and dark green vegetables.

6. Leafy Green Vegetables

So rich in vitamins for the eyes, leafy green vegetables get their own special mention. Leaves like spinach, kale, and collard greens are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, the antioxidants that protect against harmful light and AMD. 

These tasty leaves are also high in vitamin C which protects against cataracts and has swathes of other health benefits. Rich in other vitamins and minerals too like vitamin K, these vegetables are excellent for cardiovascular health. 

As the eyes have blood vessels, poor cardiovascular health has a knock-on detrimental effect upon the oxygen flowing to the eyes. Keeping your overall health in good condition will help your eyes stay healthy too. 

Dark green vegetables like those mentioned above as well as produce like broccoli should appear often on your plate and complement many dishes

7. Zinc

Last but not least, zinc is another essential nutrient for good vision. It helps carry vitamin A to the retina and is found in high quantities in the eye. Zinc deficiency has been linked with all manner of visual issues such as night blindness and cataracts. 

Studies have also shown that zinc could slow AMD in existing sufferers, making this a key nutrient for healthy eyes. 

Not sure where to get your zinc? You’ll get it from foods like eggs, tofu, beans, seafood, and red meat. 

Get Your Vitamins for the Eyes and Protect Your Vision 

We might take our vision for granted, but the moment it starts to go we’ll remember how much we need it. The best way to maintain healthy eyes and clear vision is to ensure our diets are filled with a range of vitamins and minerals throughout our lives. 

A balanced diet of leafy green and colorful vegetables provides huge amounts of essential vitamins for the eyes. Seafood can be a great choice as well for omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. And don’t forget some daily sunshine!

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