Most eye-care specialists agree that healthy eyes rely on a healthy diet. There have been various studies conducted on the effects of different nutrients to our eyes’ health. For example, research done by AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) found that certain nutrients can slow or prevent Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. In another study, they have concluded that antioxidant deficiencies can contribute to chronic dry eye syndrome.
The following nutrients have been found to help keep your eyes healthy:
- Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene – Carrots have always been popular for healthy eyes, but not for its mythical property to improve eyesight – which has been proven to be false. Carrots are good sources of Beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is processed by our bodies into Vitamin A, which, in combination with other nutrients, can help hinder the progress of AMD. Combined with Lutein, it can slow the vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa – a rare hereditary disease where the retina progressively degenerates. Also, Vitamin A (and Beta Carotene) helps maintain the cornea to prevent night blindness and clouding of the cornea which can lead to cataracts.
- Vitamin B Complex (vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 folic acid, biotin and choline) – Vitamin B is known to help maintain our blood vessels and nerves, as well as prevents chronic swelling. Since our vision relies on the optic nerve and the blood vessels supplying the eyes, keeping them healthy is a good thing. Vitamin B also helps prevent AMD and is used to treat Uveitis – a disease where the middle part of the eye swells and causes blindness. Many animal products contain Vitamin B.
- Vitamin C – Found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, Vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps protects the corneas from developing cataracts.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps in preventing AMD. Our bodies naturally produce the vitamin when exposed to sunlight.
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E helps in preventing and slowing the progression of AMD. As an anti-oxidant, it is believed that Vitamin E helps to protect against cataracts by preventing oxidation in the eye lenses. However, studies have so far been contradictory with each other and more research has to be done to confirm Vitamin E’s effect on cataracts. Sunflower seeds, nuts, and spinach are good sources of Vitamin E. However, since Vitamin E can thin your blood, be careful of it when you are taking other medication.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin – Known to decrease the risk of AMD, these carotenoids (yellow to red pigments) also help to filter harmful light to protect the cells of the eyes and possibly prevent cataracts. Other studies have shown that they help improve eyesight. While our bodies do not produce Lutein and Zeaxanthin, they can be found in green, leafy vegetables.
- Zinc – Your body uses zinc and Vitamin A to create a pigment called melanin to protect the retinas. Zinc’s other known benefit to our eyes is that it helps to protect against AMD and night blindness. Oysters, beef, eggs, and tofu are some food products that have zinc. Take note, however, that too much zinc can have adverse effect on your immune system, upset your stomach, and can hinder some antibiotics.
- Selenium – Found in seafood, selenium can decrease the risk of AMD. Some studies have also indicated that it help protect against cataracts and glaucoma.
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids – Fatty acid helps keep the eyes lubricated and therefore prevent and treat dry eyes. Cold water fish like sardines and cod are rich in Omega-3.
With our modern lifestyles it’s not always possible to eat right. Fortunately, supplements can be taken to address any deficiencies we may have in our diet. However, do consult with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements as some of them may have side effects.
If you want to keep your eyes healthy and want to know more about taking care them, schedule an appointment at Planet Vision Eyecare in Greenacres. Dr. Hetel Bhakta will be able to assess your eyes’ health and recommend any needed treatments or supplements. Remember that supplements are not to be taken as substitutes to any medication that has been prescribed to you and that your doctor is your best source of information.