Overall eye and vision health is a concern to the aging population. Over half of the population over age of 80 has cataract formations. More serious diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma and other eye problems can rob people of their sight as time progresses. Before reaching this stage, it is prudent to take steps to maintain eye health. Exercise, eating right, and sleep are crucial to eye care. Exercise helps with the blood flow to capillaries of the eye and sleep provides the eye’s photoreceptors with needed rest. Eating right will provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients proven to be beneficial for overall eye health.
The recommended dietary allowance chart established by the Institute of Medicine highlights essential nutrients and vitamins vital to maintaining good eye health. Beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, Lutein, Omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Zinc all play a role in macular degeneration and cataract prevention. Studies have shown people with cataracts often have low levels of vitamins, such as Vitamin E. Adding foods that contain these nutrients will help protect your eyes against disease and blindness. The following are some suggestions for foods that will help with eye health.
- Carrots are the most recognized food for eye health. Carrots contain high levels of Vitamin A, and have long been touted as the healthy snack for healthy eyes. Carrots can be enjoyed as a snack plain or add carrots to your salad or main meal. Carrots are a versatile vegetable that can be included in every meal.
- Cold-water fish such as sardines and salmon are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is important to maintaining overall eye health. Also a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin E, fish is a known effective treatment for macular degeneration and sight preservation. Easy to cook with a little lemon and seasoning; add fish to your weekly meal plan.
- Eggs are rich in cysteine, amino acids, and other compounds that contain sulfur which protect the lens of the eye from forming cataracts. Try an egg in the morning, or boil eggs and dice to add to your salad. Starting your day off with an egg is not only good for your eyes, but provides a much needed energy boost to start your day.
- Garlic, shallots, capers, and onions are also rich in sulfur. Sulfur helps produce glutathione, which is an antioxidant important to the lens of the eye and for the whole body. Garlic contains eye nutrients such as selenium and Vitamin C. Garlic can be added to any meal. A favorite and easy meal is stir-fry. Start with diced garlic and onions over extra virgin olive oil and add vegetables and meat or soy.
- Soy is low in fat and rich in protein. A staple of most vegetarian diets, soy is becoming a popular meat substitute. Soy also contains fatty acids and vitamin E as well as anti-inflammatory agents. This helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Soy can be used in any meal as a meat substitute. Read instructions carefully on how to prepare soy for your next meal.
- Blueberries and grapes help improve night vision. Studies have shown the antioxidants in blueberries and grapes help improve the eye’s dark adaptation within a short time. Blueberries contain bioflavonoids and they are just fun and yummy to eat. Try a smoothie with blueberries, yogurt, and milk for a good way to include them into your diet.
- Wine is known to help improve cardiovascular issues. But it also has nutrients that help protect your vision. Researchers agree moderate levels of red wine reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
In general, it’s best to maintain a healthy diet for your overall health. Be sure to incorporate plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables to your meals. Ensuring your diet is rich in vitamins and antioxidants will improve your vision and may prevent eye disease in your future. The time to start being proactive about your eye health is now.