Many of our parents probably told us growing up that if we ate our carrots, we would have better eyesight. But carrots aren’t the only food that help our eyes. There are a number of healthy foods that contain nutrients that not only help improve our eyesight, but prevent age-related diseases that could affect our vision. Many structures of our eyes contain minerals and pigments that our body can’t synthesize itself, so it’s important we obtain them from dietary sources.
“Nutrition plays a critical role in our health, and ocular health is no exception,” says ophthalmologist Dr. Svetlana Pilyugina of Assil Eye Institute. “Vitamins and antioxidants are important for function of cells and are protective on the microscopic level. Many of these are also thought to have the capacity to slow down the aging process.”
If you want your eye health to be in tip-top shape, try eating these six foods that provide our eyes with the best vitamins and nutrients.
1. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli are rich in antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help lower the risk of cataracts as well as macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in people over 60. “These pigments are derived entirely from diet and are not synthesized by our body,” says Pilyugina.
Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and anchovies contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help the retina and improve visual function. “Omega-3 is important in the treatment of dry eye syndrome and is critical for proper tear film production,” says Pilyugina.
Eggs are another source of lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as zinc and vitamin A. Research has even found that lutein is more readily available to absorb from eggs than leafy greens, though lettuce happens to contain more of the nutrient.
“Almonds provide an excellent source of vitamin E, which is once again important for retinal function,” says Pilyugina. “They also provide a good source of omega-3s.”
Since blueberries are so high in antioxidants, they help protect the retina and fight off macular degeneration, especially in patients with diabetes. “They contain powerful antioxidants and scavengers of free radicals, which protect from cell damage and aging and are important for all eye structures,” says Pilyugina. “They have anti-inflammatory effects and are also thought to help improve night vision.”
6. Citrus Fruits
“Citrus fruits and kiwis are very rich in vitamin C, which is thought to reduce the progression of cataracts,” says Pilyugina. “They are protective against macular degeneration and are important for maintenance of collagen, which is precent in the cornea.” Citrus fruits also promote wound healing and improve the surface health of your eye.