You know it’s essential to protect your vision, but did you know nutrients from the foods you eat play a big role in the long-term health of your eyes? Some vision changes are a natural part of aging, and as we age, our eye health can be affected.1 Unfortunately, most people don’t think about eye health until they start noticing vision changes.
Annual eye exams are important, but what happens between those exams makes a considerable difference in the health of your eyes. Regular exercise, wearing UVA/UVB protecting sunglasses, and avoiding smoking are important to support your eye health. You can also help protect and preserve the health of your eyes by eating the right foods for eye health.
Eggs and Lutein: Ideal for Eye Health
Egg yolks are an excellent source of both lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that help protect eyes from oxidative stress and help reduce the risk of certain age-related eye concerns.2 Since these carotenoids are absorbed more efficiently by the body when consumed with fat, the fat content in egg yolks makes them an ideal source of these eye-protecting nutrients and one of the best foods for eye health.
Dark, Leafy Greens: Lutein Foods and Antioxidants for Eye Protection
Spinach, kale, broccoli and other dark greens have seemingly endless health benefits. They help protect your eyes because they are high in vitamin C and beta-carotene, and dark greens contain both lutein and zeaxanthin. All of these nutrients for eye health add up to a protective antioxidant effect for your eyes, helping shield them from UV rays.3
Orange-colored Fruits and Vegetables: Beta-Carotene for Your Eyes
The pigments in orange-colored fruits and vegetables come from beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A, which is critical for vision. It helps protect your eyes, helps guard against age-related eye issues, and supports the functioning of the cornea.4 Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, mangos, cantaloupe, peppers and apricots are all sources of vitamin A and great foods for healthy eyesight.
Fatty Fish: Omega-3 for Eye Health
Two crucial omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish — EPA and DHA.5 Studies have shown that people with diets high in omega-3 have fewer age-related macular issues.6 In fact, the people studied were a whopping 40% less likely to have age-related eye issues than people with very little omega-3 in their diets. The lower risk was associated with eating at least two servings per week of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, halibut, herring or other oily fish.7
Citrus and Berries: Vitamin C and Protective Antioxidants
Citrus fruits and berries are high in vitamin C, one of the best vitamins for eye health, as well as citrus bioflavonoids and other antioxidants. There is evidence that these antioxidants play a role in slowing the progression of age-related eye concerns, and studies have shown that high dietary intakes of vitamin C are associated with lower risks of developing some eye diseases.8 Darker berries, like bilberries and blueberries, contain anthocyanosides, a type of plant pigment with potentially positive effects for protecting the retina.9 It’s also available in bilberry tea.
More Foods that are Good for Your Eyes
While the list above isn’t exhaustive, it’s a great start on your journey to better, long-term eye health and preventative care. Other foods that are good for your eyes include corn, avocados, tomatoes and spices such as cayenne pepper or paprika, which are all sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Looking for a simple way to get nutrients to support eye health and vision? Swanson Health’s new Vision Defense formula provides lutein and zeaxanthin in a supplement, along with other eye-healthy antioxidants to help fight the effects of eye strain and eye fatigue.
Also, check out these posts on eye and vision health: Important Facts about Blue Light and Eye Health and Manage 4 Common Vision Problems with These Solutions.
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1 Age-Related Eye Diseases: National Eye Institute. https://nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes/aging_eye(Accessed 11/6/2017)
2 Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Carotenoids and Their Role in Eye Health: US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705341/ (Accessed 11/6/2017)
3 Eating for Healthy Vision: Vision Service Plan. https://www.vsp.com/eating-healthy.html (Accessed 11/7/2017)
4 Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/(Accessed 11/7/2017)
5 The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids: WebMd.https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/omega-3-fatty-acids-fact-sheet#1 (Accessed 11/8/2017)
6 Fish Oil May Help Save Your Eyes: WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/news/20060710/fish-oil-may-help-save-your-eyes#1 (Accessed 11/8/2017)
7 Eating Fish May Preserve Eyesight: WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/news/20070515/eating-fish-may-preserve-eyesight(Accessed 11/08/2017)
8 Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: National Institutes of Health, Department of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional (Accessed 11/08/2017)
9 Bilberry: University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/bilberry (Accessed 11/07/2017)