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If you want to improve the overall health of your eyes, adding a few vitamins and minerals is an excellent place to start, as researchers have continued to link nutrition and eye health.
According to the American Optometric Association, certain eye-friendly nutrients have been associated with reducing the risk of serious ocular health problems and significant diseases of the eyes. Some of the most recommended are omega-3, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin, as the role they have been found to play in patients with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, for example, has been profound.
Fortunately, taking an active role in your eye health can be as simple as adding particular foods to your diet, as many of these vitamins and minerals can easily be found in some of our most common fruits and vegetables.
In this article, we’re going to look at the role nutrition plays in maintaining eye health, the role it also plays in preventing ocular diseases, and some of the foods that you can eat to help promote good vision and overall healthy eyes.
Nutrition and Eye Health
Scientific research continues to show us that nutrition and eye health go hand in hand, but which foods are the most beneficial? How do they help and where are they found?
Vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness globally, according to PubMed Central, a highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A is crucial for the maintenance of photoreceptors, the light-sensing cells in your eyes.
Vitamin A is mainly found in animal-based foods, with the richest of these sources being liver and egg yolks. This provitamin is also found in many fruits and vegetables, particularly in carrots, spinach and kale. These carotenoids, or antioxidant plant compounds, are responsible for over a quarter of the recommended amount of vitamin A.
Another important nutrient is omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential in maintaining eye health. In particular, they help maintain the health of the retina and protect the eye against inflammation.
The most common sources of omega-3 are foods such as tuna, salmon and other types of fish. But they can also be found in other foods, as well as some plant-based sources like chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts.
According to Healthline, lutein and zeaxanthin are two more notable nutrients for eye health. Found in the macula, these potent antioxidants offer a range of health benefits as they act as natural sunblocks and protect against harmful blue light, too.
Nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin can best be found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, parsley and collard greens. For a less leafy option, many fruits also contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, such as kiwi, orange and papaya while other sources, such as Swiss chard and pistachios are also strong choices.
Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants can help reduce the risk of age-related vision problems.
Nutrition and Eye Diseases
Not only can proper nutrition improve vision and maintain strong eye health, but it can also reduce the risk of certain eye diseases.
For example, foods that contain zinc and vitamin A can help ward off vision problems and eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of these foods can help reduce the risk of certain eye diseases, particularly macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Zinc, for instance, is an important trace element that has an antioxidant effect. It plays an essential role in growth and development, immune function, and material metabolism and studies have shown that it can also reduce oxidative stress by inhibiting anti-inflammatory response.
Some foods that are good sources of zinc include meat, particularly red meat, and shellfish. You can find ample amounts of zinc in beef, lamb, pork and oysters. Other sources include legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas, and nuts, such as cashews and almonds.
Contemporary research implies that adhering to a diet high in dark-colored fish, fruits and vegetables, and with a reduced glycemic index, is the optimal approach for promoting retinal health as one ages.
The Answer? Nutrition.
While some nutrition plays a critical role in maintaining eye health and others reduce the risk of diseases, the bottom line is that good nutrition is the foundation for healthy eyes.
Eating a well-balanced and well-rounded diet that includes the right nutrients is vital. Not only can it help keep eyes healthy and prevent future vision problems but it can also help reduce the risk of other chronic conditions such as diabetes, which can lead to vision loss.
To maintain eye health and combat some of these eye problems, consider a diet that is high in vitamins and minerals such as lutein and zeaxanthin, zinc and omega-3. These nutrients will have a positive impact on overall vision health.
VCD, Nutrition and Eye Health
Having a vision plan helps protect the health of your eyes by covering routine eye exams and helping to pay for glasses, contacts and frames. Even if you have perfect vision, dependence on electronic devices and digital screens can lead to eye strain and other problems.
Furthermore, regular eye exams are important in detecting ocular diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration, as well as physiological diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
Pre-paid vision plans provide an affordable way to access the eye care and nutrition needed for healthy vision. If you’re interested in learning more about the link between nutrition and eye health so you can better promote eye health, give us a call today!