Ten Best Foods For Eye Health

Countless research and clinical trials confirm that a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise, and no smoking is the key to reducing the risk of many diseases affecting different organs of your body.

A healthy and well-balanced diet is the cornerstone of any healthy lifestyle. The good news is the same diet that can keep you healthy will also keep your eyes healthy and improve your chances of enjoying high-quality vision. 

In the following section, we will discuss the best foods for eye health. Some nutrients are essential to keep the eye healthy overall, and others have an important role in reducing the risk or progression of some eye diseases.

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10 Best Foods For Eye Health

1) Orange vegetables and fruits rich in Beta Carotene and Vitamin A

Beta carotene serves as a precursor to Vitamin A as well as an important antioxidant in the eye. Vitamin A is the best-known vitamin associated with eye health. It gained its high significance for eye health because vitamin A and its derivatives are crucial in the photochemical reactions that occur in the retina after being stimulated by light.

These reactions lead to specific signals that are transferred to the brain for interpretation as images. Therefore, Vitamin A is crucial for both night and color vision. 

Vitamin A deficiency can cause dry eyes. Severe Vitamin A deficiency is rare but might occur in severely malnourished individuals. It can cause melting of the cornea and blindness. The antioxidant properties of the beta carotene minimize the risks of free radicals damage in the eye. This helps in certain conditions such as age-related macular degeneration

Examples of food rich in beta carotene and vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, and fruits such as cantaloupe and apricots.

2) Leafy green vegetables rich in lutein and zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants in the pigments of leafy green vegetables and other brightly colored foods. Antioxidants acted as scavengers for free radicals and were found to have the potential to stave off age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to the Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS). 

lutein-eyes

They serve a vital role in protecting the macula, the area of the back of the eye that gives us our central, detailed, and sharp vision. Kale and spinach are rich in these nutrients. Other foods with good amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin include romaine, lettuce, broccoli, peas, and collards.

3) Eggs

Egg yolk is a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.

4) Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C

Vitamin C is critical to all body organs, including your eyes. It is vital in the structure of collagen. Therefore, vitamin C is essential in repairing and growing new tissues. 

Moreover, as an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect the body from damage caused by many things such as unhealthy food, smoking, and environmental factors. Fried foods, tobacco smoke, and the sun’s rays can produce free radicals-molecules that can damage and kill cells. 

Examples of food rich in Vitamin C include citrus fruit such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and lemons. Tomatoes, peaches, and strawberries are also good sources of vitamin C. 

5) Food rich in Vitamin E

Another important antioxidant is vitamin E, which helps keep cells healthy. You can find vitamin E in avocados, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

6) Seafood

Certain types of fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can benefit people who suffer from dry eyes.  Our eyes need a healthy coating of tears for lubricating the eye surface. Without this lubrication, our eyes become red, scratchy, and irritable resulting in dry eyes. 

omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids seem to help with dry eye as they decrease inflammation and improve the function of the eye’s meibomian glands. Meibomian glands are responsible for producing the oily part of our tear film. Dysfunction of these glands is a common cause of dry eyes. Improved function of those glands can ease dry eye symptoms.

7) Food rich in zinc

The mineral zinc helps keep the retina healthy and may protect your eyes from the damaging effects of light. Zinc plays a vital role in Vitamin A metabolism and melanin production.  Melanin is a protective pigment in the eyes. 

Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and all kinds of beans, such as black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and lima beans, are rich in zinc. Other good sources of zinc include oysters, lean red meat, poultry, and fortified cereals.

8) Bell Peppers

bell pepper nutrition

Bell peppers are a great addition to your diet. They are rich in many vitamins and antioxidants, especially vitamin C and various carotenoids, which are important for your eye health.

9) Blueberries

Dietary intake of food rich in anthocyanins such as blueberries is increasingly beneficial for human eye health. We still need further research to investigate the full benefits of blueberries on our eye tissues.

10) Nuts

Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, making them highly beneficial for good eye health.

Conclusion

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and fish is important for enjoying a high-quality vision for the maximum period. It is important to note that all nutrients we mentioned above and vitamins are available in enough amounts in any balanced diet. 

Excessive consumption of any of these foods might be very harmful to your general health and will not add any benefit to your eye health.

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Sources

  1. Zhang AC, Singh S, Craig JP, Downie LE. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Eye Health: Opinions and Self-Reported Practice Behaviors of Optometrists in Australia and New Zealand. Nutrients. 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230711/
  2. Abdel-Aal el-SM, Akhtar H, Zaheer K, Ali R. Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1169-1185. Published 2013 Apr 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705341/
Alternative Text

Dr Hesham Gabr

Medical degree from Ain Shams University, Egypt, completed ophthalmology residency in Egypt with master's degree in Ophthalmology, completed 2 years of vitreoretinal research fellowship at Duke University, USA. Author and co-author of many publications focused on retina research. Currently, Senior Ophthalmology resident, Duke Eye Center, USA

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