We are what we eat. However, we often take it for granted that our vision will always be there for us. My mantra to patients has always been: Optimal vision begins with healthy eyes. By ensuring we incorporate certain nutrients in our diet, we can reduce or delay the risk of some eye diseases. Here are a few such nutrients:
- Vitamin A – Some food sources of retinol and pro-vitamin vitamin A (carotenoids) include beef, cheese, carrots, kale, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Studies show vitamin A eye drops are effective for the treatment of dry eyes, and when combined with other antioxidants, plays a role in decreasing the risk of macular degeneration (AMD).
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin – Found primarily in green leafy vegetables, many studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of both age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Some evidence suggests vitamin C helps delay the progression of cataracts. Additionally, when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, vitamin C can contribute to slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration and subsequent visual acuity loss.
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant found in many nuts, fortified cereals and vegetables. It helps protect ocular tissue from damage caused by unstable free radicals.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Essential fatty acids are known to help maintain the integrity of the nervous system, decrease inflammation, and boost our immunity. Regarding the eyes, Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease blepharitis (eyelid inflammation), and is also essential for retinal development leading to proper visual function.
- Zinc – Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is vital in the production of melanin, a protective pigment in the retinal layers of the eyes.