Diet, Nutrition & Good Eye Health
July 25, 2022
The non-profit, MyVision reached out to us regarding Foogal posting their articles about eye health. Their articles are evidence-based, and food/nutrition related, so we agreed to post this article. We enjoyed it and hope you do as well.
You have likely heard about diet and exercise as a prescription for a variety of health issues from high blood pressure to diabetes, but it can also be a path to clearer vision.
It does not work if your vision loss is tied to an injury or a genetic eye issue, and there is debate among medical professionals as to how effective exercise can be. But there is almost universal agreement that nutrients and diet can be helpful in improving vision.
Proper nutrition for your eyes can help delay vision issues later in life and assist, to some degree, in restoring certain losses in acuity. With that in mind, we will cover the following topics:
- Familiar Vitamins and Nutrients for Eye Health
- Foods That Are Good for Eye Health
- Supplements to Enhance Your Vision
- The Most Common Eye Diseases
- A Diet to Enable Eye Health
Did you know your eyes consume more than 80 percent of your daily information intake? Your eyes can also transmit about 10 million bits of visual data to your brain per second.
So it makes sense that healthy eyesight is important. As you age, your vision declines. But with a proper diet and nutrition, you can maintain good eye health. And you can protect your eyes from some common eye diseases.
Vitamins and Nutrients Good for Eye Health
Here are seven vital vitamins and nutrients that promote eye health.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A keeps your cornea, the outside covering of your eye, clear. Research shows that taking vitamin A can reduce the risk of cataracts.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C protects your eyes from harmful free radicals, unstable molecules that break down cells over time. Multiple studies show that Vitamin C reduces your risk of cataracts. In fact, one study revealed that taking more than 490 mg of Vitamin C reduced the risk of cataracts by 75 percent.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E keeps free radicals away from your eye cells. One study showed that taking 400 IU of Vitamin E reduced the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 25 percent.
4-5. Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are macular pigments in your eyes. They protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Researchers found that people who take a lot of lutein and Zeaxanthin are at a lower risk of AMD than people who take in very little of these nutrients.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, consist of PA and DHA. Your retina contains large amounts of DHA. Many studies reveal that Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of retinal diseases.
Zinc is a trace mineral present in every cell of your body. Your body contains high levels of both zinc and iron trace minerals. Iron is more abundant than zinc. There are high amounts of zinc in your eyes. Early research shows oral zinc may reduce the risk of AMD.
Foods to Eat for Eye Health
Now that you know which vitamins and nutrients can help your eyesight, it’s time to revamp your menu. What types of food can help you prolong your eye health? Here’s a list to help get you started:
For Vitamin A
For Vitamin C
- Papaya (a great detox fruit)
- Green peppers
- Spinach and kale
For Vitamin E
- Corn oil (other vegetable oils)
- Sweet potatoes
- Wheat germ
- Nuts and legumes
- Seeds (chia, flax and others)
For Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Other varieties of cold-water fish (cod, halibut, tilapia, sardines)
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be good for eye health according to a number of studies done on infants which confirmed the relationship between this nutrient and eye health. Studies were done on pre-term and full-term infants.
For Lutein and Zeaxanthin
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Brussel Sprouts
- Red meats
Eggs are a workhorse of eye health. The yokes themselves contain vitamin A, lutein and Zeaxanthin, and zinc.
If you can incorporate some of these nutrient-packed food items into your daily meals each day, better eye health could be just a bite away.
The National Institute of Health recommends eating foods high in vitamin A, E, and C for general eye health. However, research does show the effectiveness of some supplements. For instance, AREDS2 contains Vitamin E and is a potential treatment for AMD. A prospective study found that Vitamin C supplements help reduce cataracts.
This one can be a bit tricky because of how supplements are produced and marketed. This list represents top-tier supplements that are, ostensibly, the best you can take for your vision in 2021—at least according to KirklandReporter.com. These supplements include:
- Koori Vision Fix Protocol & Home Eye Test Kit
- Bonus Vision Guide #2: Natural Vision System
- Bonus Vision Guide #1: Sniper Vision System
- Bionutritionals Advanced Vision Formula
- PureHealth Research Complete Formula
- Nuzena Vision Support +
- Performance Lab Vision
- Zenith Labs Vision 20
- Divine Vision 12
- Eagle Eye 911
- Eyesight Max
- Vista Clear
An age-related eye disease study found that an intake daily of 500 milligrams of Vitamin C and 80 milligrams of zinc helped slow the progression of AMD. Always consult your doctor or medical professionals for vitamin and nutrient supplement amounts.
Also known as the carotenoid phytonutrient, Lutein is an anti-inflammatory and protects the eyes and skin. According to Harvard University, 6 milligrams of Lutein daily can lower the risk of macular degeneration by about 43 percent.
Researchers estimate that 0.34 milligrams of Zeaxanthin per pound/kg of your body weight are safe to take each day. Some researchers found that a recommended dose of 2 mg of Zezanthin daily improved skin tone and noticeably reduced risks of chronic eye diseases.
Because Vitamin E can thin your blood, consult your health care professional to determine what amount will work best for you.
According to the American Optometric Association, using specific vitamins and nutrients in your diet may benefit your vision. This is a list of things you might be concerned about and may look to dietary changes to help alleviate your concern:
- The natural aging process
- Sunlight/UV rays
- Alcohol use to an excess
- Screen time
- Excessive use of eye drops
- Skipping eye doctor appointments
- Lack of protective eye gear use (during work or play)
Studies indicate that incorporating Vitamin C into your diet could slow the progress of AMD. Implementing Vitamin E into your daily diet can safeguard your eyes from “free radicals” which attack healthy tissue.
How does healthy vision develop? Studies show a link between Omega-3 and healthy vision development in infants. Ensure your eyes stay keen by maintaining proper levels of fatty acids, supporting your retinal functions in the process. Fatty acids also increase tear production, which is helpful for those who suffer from dry eyes.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin can prevent the development of cataracts or other chronic eye diseases. Those with high levels of these two nutrients lower the risk of new cataracts forming.
Zinc is a nutrient that enables the supply of Vitamin A from the liver to the retina. Melanin, which is a pigment that has protective qualities for eye functions, is affected during this process. Zinc deficiency could lead to cloudy vision and poor night vision.
The Most Common Eye Diseases
The CDC points out several eye diseases are exceedingly common:
- Closed and open angle glaucoma initiating vision loss and blindness
- Strabismus, Esotropia and Exotropia (Eyes crossing or turning out)
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) (Drusen indicates AMD)
- Refractive issues, including myopia, astigmatism and presbyopia
- Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), which has four stages of progression
- Cataracts, which affect a little under 10 percent of the population
- Amblyopia, commonly called Lazy Eye Syndrome
Of these, we are most familiar with refractive issues which, according to the CDC, affects at least 150 million Americans. Refractive issues are very treatable, but there are operations which can help with issues like cataracts.
If you experience any of these conditions, consult your optometrist to see if there are existing medical procedures that could help. Supplementation can assist, but sometimes you need a more in-depth solution.
There are 10 common eye diseases. They include:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Dry or teary eyes
- Refractive Errors
Now, multiple factors contribute to any of the above-mentioned eye diseases. You can’t stop the deterioration of your eyes as you age, but you can slow the change. And healthy eyes slow any decay in eyesight. With the proper vitamins, nutrients, and diet, you can protect your eyes for good eye health.
What are the common eye problems people face every day? Check out this list of diseases that healthy lifestyle and diet choices can help prevent:
Age-Related Eye Diseases
- Macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
Other Eye Diseases
- Dry eyes (or chronic dry eye)
- Thyroid disease
- Red eye disease
Make sure to check with your doctor to find out more about these diseases, potential prevention, and if you are at risk.
Diets That Help Eye-Related Issues
Changing your diet can help you treat vision issues, including some diseases related to ocular health. Proper supplements can enhance your vision and eating the right foods with the right vitamins is key to enhancing the clarity of your vision. Consult with healthcare professionals you trust to help determine which options will best complement your visual health.
It is notable that, generally, a Mediterranean diet may do much to improve your eye sight. Basically, foods with a low GI (Glycemic Index) are known to be good for eye health, as are healthy fats that come from fish, meats including zinc such as beef, and calcium-rich foods.
There are specific formulas of nutrients out there for AREDS or AREDS2 and you can read about them here.
Depending on the sort of eye health issue you are dealing with, there are different diets you may want to consider. If you are dealing with cataracts, the current wisdom is that antioxidants can be a big help. Adopt a diet that includes notable portions of Vitamin C and E, which are known to have antioxidant properties.
Eating a healthy diet is key to eye health. Here are two of the most known diets that promote eye health.
Diets high in antioxidants, healthy fats, fish, and calcium can promote better eye health. Other names of eye-healthy diets include:
- Mediterranean (including fish, nuts, and olive oil)
- Low-Glycemic Index (excluding sugary drinks, refined grain foods, pasta and includes low-calorie meals)
- AREDS2 (a nutrient-laden regimen/supplemental combination to support and promote eye health)
Having a healthy balance of vitamins and nutrients in your daily diet can help you protect your vision.
The keto diet is a low-carb diet. Research at the Northeast Ohio Medical University showed that feeding mice a keto diet was 90 percent effective in protecting their retinal cells.
The foundation of the Mediterranean Diet consists of:
- Whole grains
Research shows that the foods in the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of AMD or decrease its progress.
A healthy diet and proper nutrients will help you maintain good eye health. More research is needed to determine how well supplements promote eye health. But the leading promoter of eye health are foods rich in the mentioned seven vitamins and minerals.
- Penn Researchers Calculate How Much The Eye Tells The Brain. (July 2006). Science Daily.
- Mediterranean Diet: Healthy Eating for Healthier Eyes. (September 2018). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
- Association of vitamin A and beta-carotene with risk for age-related cataract: a meta-analysis. (October 2014). Nutrition.
- Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. (June 1999). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Epidemiologic evidence of a role for the antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids in cataract prevention. (January 1991). American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8. (October 2001). Archives of ophthalmology.
- Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group. (November 1994). Journal of the American Medical Association.
- Diet and Nutrition. (2021). American Optometric Association.
- Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2). (December 2021). ClinicalTrials.gov.
- Top foods to help protect your vision. (August 2013). Harvard Health Publishing.
- Cataract surgery. (August 2021). Mayo Clinic.
- A healthy eyes recipe. (January 2020). American Optometric Association.
- The 4 Most Common Age-Related Eye Diseases. (2021). Aging Care.
- Vitamins for Eye Health. (2021). AREDS-2.com.
- A practical guide to the Mediterranean Diet. (March 2019). Harvard Health Publishing.
- Structural and Functional Rescue of Chronic Metabolically Stressed Optic Nerves through Respiration. (May 2018). The Journal of Neuroscience.