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A Feast for Your Eyes: 8 Foods That Promote Eye Health

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 As we grow older we often complain that “our eyes aren't what they used to be”. Maintaining healthy vision throughout our lives may prove a challenge, it's not, however, impossible. It is often stated that nutrition is the cornerstone of preventive medicine, so eating fresh fruit, vegetables and other nutritious foods is the best way to prevent certain age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. Here's a list of foods that are particularly “eye-friendly” and can prove valuable assets to our fight against poor vision.

Iris : Right Eye
Credit: "Iris (right eye)" by Laitr Keiows on commons.wikimedia.org, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

1. Almonds

A handful of Almonds
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Almonds boast a whole lot of useful nutrients. They provide calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and a good deal of fiber. What's more, a single handful of almonds gives us half the amount of vitamin E we need each day. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant with the ability to protect eye cells. It is found in copious amounts in the eye, especially the lens and retina. Almonds also have a good deal of essential fatty acids and a little bit of zinc, which is a vital trace mineral for our eyes. We only need it in small amounts, but it is highly concentrated in the eye, mainly in the retina and choroid (the tissue layer under the retina). One of zinc's important tasks is to transfer vitamin A from the liver to the eye for the production of melanin, an eye-protective pigment. So if you are looking for a filling midday “eye snack”, try a fistful of almonds!

Avocado Slice
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2. Avocados

Commonly used to treat dark circles and puffy eyes, avocados are good to eat, too. They contain generous amounts of vitamin K, B5, B6, potassium, folate, and the eye-friendly vitamins C and E. There are also small amounts of essential minerals like zinc and copper . Their lutein content not only protects your sight, but also helps you maintain healthy skin. In addition, avocados are a great source of fiber and essential fatty acids. Essential fats provide energy for our cells and assist the immune and nervous systems. Two omega-3 fats in particular, DHA and EPA, are critical for visual development and proper retinal function, so they are essential for a healthy eyesight. 

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are well-known for their numerous health benefits and tremendous antioxidant power. This is due to their substantial vitamin C and anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are also respinsible for the vibrant blue color of this incredible berry. Antioxidants are extremely beneficial for our overall health and can effectively protect aging eye cells from oxidative damage by providing free radicals with their missing electron and preventing them from wreaking havoc by damaging healthy cells and tissue like the macula and macular pigment. These tiny blue miracles can aid us in preventing degenerative diseases and visual impairment.

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4. Carrots

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Carrots aren't just for rabbits. While everyone knows about them, we tend to forget to put them on our table. Carrots have a substantial beta-carotene and lutein content which is crucial in preventing night blindness and protecting the cornea. Our bodies also use beta-carotene to produce vitamin A. This nutrient is essential for a strong immune system, as well as eye moisture and a healthy retina. It can also prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well as the formation of cataracts. On the other hand, an extreme deficiency of vitamin A is a very serious issue and can even lead to blindness. Carrots are also rich in vitamin C, one of the best antioxidants out there. These amazing veggies can be consumed either raw or cooked. They taste great when lightly steamed!

5. Fatty Fish

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Fish is a truly incredible food. All fish are high in protein, low in calories and have an array of health benefits. Fatty fish are omega-3 rich foods with additional advantages. Regular consumption (twice a week) can protect the tiny blood vessels inside our eyes. A diet rich in essential fats can also delay or prevent the onset of AMD, which is the leading cause of vision loss for people over 60. Salmon is a rock star among fatty fish since it has a high essential fatty acid content and a good deal of vitamin D. Other more affordable and equally healthy alternatives you can try are sardines, herring, mackerel and tuna.   

6. Oranges

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Oranges are fruit royalty. They are crucial to antioxidant protection since they contain more than 60 different flavonoids and a good amount of vitamin C. As one of nature's most powerful antioxidants, vitamin C, performs numerous functions in the body and is crucial in protecting our eyesight. It can prevent visual acuity (clearness) loss, it lowers the risk of cataract formation and slows the progression of AMD. These nutrients work really well together protecting our DNA, including our eye cells, from oxidative damage. Other citrus fruits, such as lemons, tangerines, and grapefruit, also boast a good deal of vitamin C, so don't forget about them! These natural foods are low in calories (a medium-sized orange has about 62) so they are also great for people who are interested in weight management.

7. Spinach

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Spinach is one of those dark leafy green vegetables you shouldn't live without. It is a powerhouse of important nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin, two important carotenoids. Lutein and zeaxanthin have the ability to fortify the macula and shield our eyes by filtering dangerous high-energy blue wavelengths of light. They can effectively protect us from the infamous free radicals responsible for retinal damage and reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases. They also help us detect contrast and overall improve our vision. Apart from spinach, you can try broccoli, turnip greens, kale, romaine lettuce and collards. Make a habit of eating at least two servings every week. Lutein and zeaxanthin are fat soluble, so eat your veggies with a bit of olive oil to make the most of their nutritional benefits.

8. Tomatoes

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A fruit or a vegetable? It doesn't really matter. Whatever they are, tomatoes are simply amazing. They are literally packed with carotenoids- including lutein and zeaxanthin- which are the most essential eye nutrients. Tomatoes get their vibrant red colour from lycopene, another carotenoid that protects against retinal damage and promotes healthy vision. Other good sources of lycopene include blood oranges, grapefruit, watermelon, papaya and sweet red peppers. Tomatoes are also a fantastic source of vitamin C and A, two key elements of eye nutrition. To get the most out of this incredible food, add a little olive oil to your salad or tomato sauce.




Oct 17, 2016 4:08am
I grew up being told to eat my carrots because they are good for the eyes, but I didn't know about the others, thanks. (I love most of the foods on this list, especially avocado!)
Oct 21, 2016 12:24am
Thanks for your comment, Leigh. We need a good combination of foods for long term benefits and it's always a good idea to mix it up, anyway!
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  1. Julie Upton, MS, RD " 7 Best Foods for Your Eyes." cookinglight.com. 12/09/2016 <Web >
  2. Elaine W-T. Chong, MBBS; Andreas J. Kreis, MD; Tien Y. Wong, MBBS, PhD, FRANZCO; Julie A. Simpson, PhD; Robyn H. Guymer, MBBS, PhD, FRANZCO "Dietary ω-3 Fatty Acid and Fish Intake in the Primary Prevention of Age-Related Macular DegenerationA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.." Arch. Ophthalmol.. 126 (2008): 826-833.
  3. "Diet & Nutrition." American Optometric Association. 12/09/2016 <Web >
  4. Jay B. Lavine. MD The Eye Care Sourcebook. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2001.

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