The American Optometric Association has designated March as “Save Your Vision” month. During Save Your Vision month, optometrists all over the world are reminding people about the importance of maintaining their eye health. Specifically, the AOA wants patients to remember that their diet is essential to eye health. A person’s diet is also beneficial to their heart, bones, teeth, and overall health as well.
WHY DIET IS IMPORTANT TO EYE HEALTH
Over two decades of research have been designated to the connection between eye health and a person’s diet. Through this massive amount of research, it has been determined that everything from simple dry eye to age-related eye diseases can be traced back to a person’s personal nutrition. To improve your eye health, and your overall health, people should try to consume a healthy diet that includes six very important nutrients.
SIX NUTRIENTS WHICH ARE CRUCIAL FOR OPTIMAL EYE HEALTH
The six most important nutrients to enhance eye health include antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E, and the mineral zinc. In order to promote eye health, patients must eat food that contains these nutrients because the body does not create any of these nutrients on its own.
CHOOSE SPINACH OVER CARROTS TO INCREASE YOUR EYE HEALTH
When people talk about eating fruits and vegetables to promote eye health, they usually think of carrots first. After all, for years people have discussed the importance of carrots on a patient’s eye health. However, carrots are not the most important vegetable when it comes to improving eye health. It is true that carrots have some benefits for eye health because they are high in beta carotene, but beta carotene only helps patients improve their nighttime vision, it doesn’t help with overall eye health.
Instead, the AOA recommends people eat a diet full of dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach. Spinach is preferred by the AOA because it contains a great deal of lutein and zeaxanthin.
ADDITIONAL WAYS TO ADD LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN TO YOUR DIET
There are a variety of ways to add lutein and zeaxanthin to your diet. In fact, at least one cup of colorful fruits and vegetables including broccoli, kale, spinach, corn, peas, green beans, raw dandelion leaves, turnips, collard greens, romaine lettuce, zucchini, brussel sprouts, pistachio nuts, hard boiled eggs, kiwi, goji berries, tangerines and oranges, at least four times a week can help decrease a person’s chances of developing age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and photophobia.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS THAT ARE EASY TO ADD TO A DIET
Adding essential fatty acids to your diet can help people avoid dry eye and age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration. Great examples of essential fatty acids include anything with omega-3 fatty acids including fleshy or flax tuna, herring, salmon, shellfish, hemp oil, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, leafy vegetables, walnuts, lean meats, whole grain foods, and eggs.
FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN C
A diet rich in vitamin C can help reduce the risks of AMD and cataracts. Food that is rich in vitamin C include grapefruit, liver, oranges, strawberries, green peppers, papaya, and tomatoes.
FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN E
Food rich in vitamin E also has the potential to slow down the progression of AMD and the formation of cataracts. Food rich in vitamin E include vegetable oils such as wheat germ oil, palm oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and safflower oil, nuts including almonds, hazelnuts and pecans, sweet potatoes, turnips, beets, collard greens, avocados, asparagus, kiwifruit, broccoli, pumpkin, mangoes, tomatoes, papayas, rockfish, and leafy vegetables.
As you can see many of the items in the six essential nutrients overlap each other, which makes it very easy for a person to choose a few of these items to add to their diet. Adding just a few items can ensure that you cover all six nutrient groups, and improve your diet, overall health and in doing so, your eyesight as well.
In honor of Save Your Vision month, take the time to evaluate your diet and make changes that will benefit your eye health, and your overall health as well. If you suspect you are having eye issues, or just want to discuss your eye health and diet with your eye doctor, make an appointment and your optometrist will be more than happy to go over all the details with you.
Brighton Optical is one of Western New York’s leading Optical Care Centers! Visit or call our office for information on how we can help you keep you vision at it’s best through regular eye exams and quality care.