Supporting Your Eye Health
with Your Diet

Your vision is irreplaceable, and properly caring for it goes beyond just scheduling an eye exam every year. Ensuring that you have healthy vision can actually begin with a few small adjustments when it comes to the food you’re putting in your body.

Our team at Midwest Vision Centers is dedicated to helping you keep your eyes healthy, now and for years to come. Here’s how changes to your diet can help support your eye health.

How a Balanced Diet Can Support Your Eyes

 

Like many other organs in the body, the eyes are complex and need certain nutrients to function properly. Not only can adding eye-healthy foods to your diet help support your everyday vision, it can help decrease your risk of developing vision-threatening eye diseases as you age, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

In fact, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) identified the nutrients that have the ability to delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration and related vision loss.

Adjusting and balancing your diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight, lowering your chances of developing certain health conditions — like type 2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol — that can put your vision at risk in addition to your overall health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for proper functioning of cells, organs, muscles, and even nerves; however, fatty acids can’t be produced by our body, so they have to be brought in by the food we eat.

Eating food rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help promote proper fluid drainage in the eyes, which decreases the risk of developing glaucoma. It can also reduce the painful symptoms of dry eye syndrome and protect your retina from AMD.

 

Find Omega-3s in Oily Fish

Adding salmon, cod, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, or tuna to your diet can greatly benefit your eyes — all of these cold-water fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It’s even recommended by the American Heart Association that people consume one to two meals containing “oily” fish each week because of its ability to better cardiovascular health.

For those who find the idea of consuming oily fish this often unsavory, fish oil supplements also have the potential to improve your eye health without the “fishy taste.”

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for proper functioning of cells, organs, muscles, and even nerves; however, fatty acids can’t be produced by our body, so they have to be brought in by the food we eat.

Eating food rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help promote proper fluid drainage in the eyes, which decreases the risk of developing glaucoma. It can also reduce the painful symptoms of dry eye syndrome and protect your retina from AMD.

Find Omega-3s in Oily Fish

Adding salmon, cod, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, or tuna to your diet can greatly benefit your eyes — all of these cold-water fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It’s even recommended by the American Heart Association that people consume one to two meals containing “oily” fish each week because of its ability to better cardiovascular health.

For those who find the idea of consuming oily fish this often unsavory, fish oil supplements also have the potential to improve your eye health without the “fishy taste.”

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps support vision, bone growth, and the immune system. It’s beneficial for the cornea — the outer surface of the eye — as well as mucous membranes and skin. Because it can improve your body’s natural barriers, it can also reduce your risk of developing eye infections and infectious diseases.

Try Eating Carrots, Pumpkins, & Sweet Potatoes

In order to protect your eyes’ corneas and reduce your risk for eye disease, it’s important to consume proper dosages of vitamin A. Luckily, vitamin A is readily available in many foods, including:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole milk

Vitamin C

The body doesn’t produce enough vitamin C, despite it benefitting almost every cell. Vitamin C can help promote absorption of iron and healthy capillaries, including the blood vessels in the eyes. It can also reduce the risk of developing certain types of cataracts.

Eat Citrus Fruits and Leafy Green Vegetables

Eye-healthy vitamin C can be found in widely available fruits and vegetables, including:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Collards
  • Grapefruits
  • Kale
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can help lower your risk for developing cataracts and AMD. This is because it protects the cells in your eyes against molecules that break down healthy eye tissue as you age.

Vitamin E in Nuts, Legumes, & Seeds

High in both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, eating nuts, legumes, and seeds will help protect your eye health.
These eye healthy vitamins are found in:

  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Flax seeds
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts

Zinc

Zinc, a trace mineral, helps promote melanin production in the eyes. Melanin is a protective pigment that mostly resides in the retina, which is responsible for most of our vision. Poor eyesight and cloudy cataracts have often been linked with zinc deficiency, and zinc supplements have been shown by AREDS to slow the progression of AMD.

Zinc Can Be Found in Beef, Oysters, & Pork

The eye contains high levels of zinc, and so do various meats, such as those found in beef, oysters, and pork. However, these aren’t the only foods you can eat to increase your zinc intake. Zinc can also be found in:

  • Bran flakes
  • Eggs
  • Lobster
  • Milk
  • Yogurt

It’s Time to Protect Your Eye Health by Adjusting Your Diet

Your eyes are complicated — caring for them can be complicated, as well. At Midwest Vision Centers, our team of experienced optometrists are here to be your trusted resource when it comes to your eye health.

While making changes to your diet has the potential to improve your eye health and protect your vision, it can only do so if consumed in the proper amounts and combined with the right treatments. We recommend that when you’re ready to take responsibility for your eye health, begin by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam.

During your thorough exam, our eye doctors will evaluate your eye health and inform you of what supplements or foods you should consume to protect your eyes. When you’re ready to begin practicing proper eye health, schedule an appointment at one of the Midwest Vision Centers locations closest to you.