With more than 21 million Americans suffering from some type of functional vision problem, going the extra mile to maintain your vision health is now more important than ever. As the ninth most common disability in the US, vision impairments are now being treated more aggressively than ever before. From providing reading assistance, to purchasing certain equipment, to undergoing surgery, treatment options for poor vision health are seemingly endless.
However, spending thousands of dollars on high-tech eye care gadgets doesn’t have to be your only solution. While some problems are not preventable, by simply maintaining a healthy diet, you can greatly improve your overall vision health and promote adequate eye functioning.
Research has shown that by incorporating high doses of nutrients into your daily diet, you can lower your risk of developing conditions like cataracts or macular degeneration by nearly 25 percent. Nutrients like lutein and omega three fatty acids and vitamins like A, C and E have a preventative effect on the eyes and the overall health of the body.
Below are eight great foods to incorporate into your diet and promote healthy eyes.
Greens like kale, spinach, and collards are high in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that work to protect and maintain healthy cells. Because they are so rich in minerals and vitamin A, they help to protect your eyes from the inside by filtering harmful blue waves.
Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and other cold-water fish are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which greatly protect your eyes from things like excessive dryness, macular degeneration, and cataracts. If seafood isn’t on the menu, consider using fish oil or supplements with black currant seed oil or flax seed oil – all offer a great supply of healthy omega-3s.
As one of the best sources of beta-carotene and lycopene available, apricots help resist damage to the cells and tissues like the eye’s lens. Our bodies breakdown beta-carotenes into Vitamin A – one of the eye’s best defenses. Other fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and berries are high in Vitamin C which helps reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and especially pistachios contain significant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin and are also extremely high in vitamin E. These nuts contain mono and polyunsaturated fats that help boost carotenoid absorption and lutein levels.
Eggs are perhaps one of the most important food sources for maintaining good vision health. High in zinc, Omega 3, lutein and vitamin D, eggs may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Furthermore, studies have found that one egg yolk a day can increase lutein levels by 26 percent and zeaxanthin levels by 38 percent.
Packed full of healthy carotenoids like lycopene, tomatoes help prevent light-induced damage to areas of the eye like the retina. Corn, on the other hand, is a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, and can boost natural pigmentation that’s lost with age-related macular degeneration. When eaten together, corn and tomatoes (or other carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies) can also reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
The vitamin E, zinc and niacin in whole grains promotes overall vision health and can greatly reduce the risks of age-related macular degeneration. Quinoa, brown rice, whole oats and other whole grains like bread and pasta are reliable dietary options.
A one-cup serving of sweet potatoes contains enough vitamin A to fulfill daily requirements. High on the eye-health list, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins C and A and act as great internal protection for your eyes. Consider adding other high vitamin E sources to your diet as well, like almonds, sunflower seeds or peanut butter.
By incorporating these eye-healthy foods into your daily diet, you’ll positively boost other body systems that work synergistically to maintain and improve proper eye care. Next time you’re at the grocery store, make an effort to reach for fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from foods high in saturated fats and sugars.
With a balanced diet full of beneficial vitamins and minerals, you can protect your retinas, prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, and ensure your eyes are properly moisturized and healthy. If you’re not able to eat some of these valuable foods, talk to your doctor about taking food supplements that can provide you with the right substances.
For more information on ways to improve your vision health or to learn more about how you can protect your eyes with vision insurance, contact VSP Direct.