Adding powerful vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to your diet can improve your vision and overall eye health. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain serious eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
You can find these antioxidants in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and a lot of other foods. Who knew taking care of your eyes could taste good, too?
All eyes on these vitamins and nutrients
For good eye health, look to these key vitamins and nutrients:
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Many studies show that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases. People who got the most lutein and zeaxanthin had a much lower risk for developing new cataracts. Dark green leafy vegetables are the primary source of lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as other colorful fruits and vegetables like broccoli, corn, peas, persimmons and tangerines.
- Vitamin C
Scientific evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, it can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss. For your daily dose, try incorporating oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes into your diet.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E protects cells in the eyes from unstable molecules called free radicals, which break down healthy tissue. Good food sources of Vitamin E include vegetable oils (including safflower and corn oil), nuts, wheat germ and sweet potatoes.
- Essential fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for proper visual development and retinal function. Studies in pre-term and full-term infants suggest that getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is essential for optimal visual development. Salmon, tuna and other cold-water fish are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids and can help reduce inflammation, enhance tear production and support the eye’s oily outer layer.
Zinc plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Impaired vision, such as poor night vision and cloudy cataracts, has been linked to zinc deficiency. For natural dietary sources of zinc, try red meat, oysters and other shellfish, and nuts and seeds.
Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection can lessen the severity or even prevent 90% of these eye injuries.
Taking care of your health is critical and you may have concerns related to eye health as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Doctors of optometry are resuming the delivery of comprehensive eye health and vision care and implementing new protocols to provide care in a safe and healthy environment.
It turns out UV radiation can pose a danger to your eyes, year-round, both outdoors from the sun and inside from artificial sources—welding machines included. That's why it’s so important to take daily precautions against the negative effects of overexposure.