Vision changes throughout life. As you age, the risk of worsening eyesight increases, as well as the risk of developing serious eye conditions. Like any other health condition, your diet can play a significant role in maintaining your ocular health. For example, two of the most common eye conditions, macular degeneration, and cataracts may be influenced by poor nutrition. While a balanced diet can’t improve your eyeglasses prescription, foods rich in certain nutrients and vitamins may help reduce the risk of developing chronic eye conditions.
Joseph Martel, MD, suggests including more of the following five food groups in your diet to help reduce the risk of deteriorating vision:
Leafy greens are commonly recommended because of their many health benefits. Two nutrients important for eye health, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in high concentrations in your macula, the location of your retina responsible for central vision. As a result of recent research, lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation are now recommended for all patients with moderate or advanced dry macular degeneration. Challenge yourself to add kale or spinach to each meal.
Red, purple, and blue berries contain the nutrient anthocyanin. Bilberry, in particular, has high amounts of anthocyanin. Some studies suggest anthocyanins can help protect your eye health, specifically the cornea, lens, and retina. Include blueberries, bilberries, black currants, cranberries, strawberries, and even red cabbage in your diet.
Certain types of fish, such as wild-caught salmon, tuna, and sardines provide omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies have shown a benefit of omega-3 fatty acids in decreasing the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Add one to two servings of salmon, tuna, or sardines a week to your diet to help improve your eye health and lower cholesterol.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
Vitamin C can help maintain eye health overall, with particular benefits to the cornea, retina, and lens of the eye. Include more oranges, grapefruits, potatoes, broccoli, and other foods high in vitamin C in your diet.
While eating sources rich in vitamin A are important for retinal health, most people obtain a sufficient amount from a normal diet. However, individuals with certain gastrointestinal problems or poor diets can benefit from a good source of vitamin A, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, which can help maintain your general eye health.
Whether you plan on using vitamins or supplements, or just trying new foods, following these tips can help decrease the chance of developing serious eye conditions later in life. While some of these suggestions may seem simple, you should consult your primary medical doctor, as well as your ophthalmologist, before beginning any diet or supplement regiment. For more information, visit the UPMC Eye Center.