Eye foods

You are what you eat – and this has an impact on your vision, especially in future years. By regularly eating the following foods, researchers have found that vision-related diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness) could be prevented. In some cases, vision can actually be enhanced, particularly night vision. These foods are rich in some super compounds that benefit eye health.

Top Vision Foods

  • Blueberries – one of the best antioxidants (compounds that deter cell damage) which strengthen capillaries for healthier eyes and veins
  • Bilberry – related to blueberries, the bilberry is an herb that also strengthens capillary walls within the retina, help with night vision, and can delay the progression of retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disorder that starts with night blindness and ultimately results in total blindness
  • Carrots – these have always had a reputation as being “good for the eyes”
  • Corn – corn contains the powerful antioxidant zeaxanthin that combats age-related eye disorders
  • Leafy, dark green vegetables such as kale, Swiss chard, collard greens and spinach – great sources of lutein, another eye-protective antioxidant.
  • Omega-3 – from seafood, orange, yellow and dark-green fruits and vegetables may also avert eye disease and deter macular degeneration
  • Kiwis, Grapes, Orange Juice, Mangoes
  • Celery, Yellow and Red Peppers, Okra, Peas, Romaine Lettuce, Broccoli, Avocadoes, Plums, Pumpkin, Brussels Sprouts, yellow and red peppers, broccoli, peas, Romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, celery, pumpkin, okra, plums – provide protection from macular degeneration

Eye Health Tips

Most of us take our eyes for granted. It has been estimated that 50,000 people lose their sight needlessly each year and that 80 million Americans are at risk of eye diseases that can lead to low vision and even blindness. The most common diseases: age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye disease are all preventable to some extent. Here are some tips to look after what you have and prevent these illnesses:

  • Eat Blueberroes. Blueberries are one of the richest fruit forms of antioxidants, and a study published in The Archives of Ophthalmology found that women and men who ate the greatest amount of fruit were the least likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the leading cause of blindness in older people.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases your risk of cataracts, glaucoma, dry eyes, and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Eat spinach Studies find that lutein, a nutrient that is particularly abundant in spinach, may prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Ideally, get your lutein in combination with some form of fat (olive oil works great) for the best absorption.
  • Cook with red onions, not yellow. Red onions contain far more quercetin, an antioxidant that is thought to protect against cataracts.
  • Aim your car vents at your feet – not your eyes. Dry, air-conditioned air will suck the moisture out of eyes like a sponge. Aim the vents in your car away from your eyes, or wear sunglasses as a shield. Dry eyes can be more than an inconvenience; serious dryness can lead to corneal abrasions and even blindness if left untreated.
  • Move your computer screen to just below eye level. Your eyes will close slightly when you’re staring at the computer, minimizing fluid evaporation and the risk of dry eye syndrome, says John Sheppard, M.D., who directs the ophthalmology residency program at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia.
  • Take a multivitamin every day. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth. A major study suggested that if every American at risk for age-related macular degeneration took daily supplements of antioxidant vitamins and zinc, more than 300,000 people could avoid ARMD-associated vision loss over the next five years. Other studies find that women who took vitamin C supplements for at least 10 years were 77 percent less likely to show initial signs of cataracts than those who took no supplemental C. So take a multi with at least 150 mg vitamin C, or take a separate C supplement.
  • Walk at least four times a week. Some evidence suggests that regular exercise can reduce the intraocular pressure, or IOP, in people with glaucoma. In one study, glaucoma patients who walked briskly four times per week for 40 minutes lowered their IOP enough so they could stop taking medication for their condition. It’s also possible – although there’s no proof yet – that walking could also reduce your overall risk of developing glaucoma.
  • Eat fish twice a week. A study from Harvard researchers presented at the 2003 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s annual meeting evaluated the diets of 32,470 women and found those who ate the least amount of fish (thus getting the least amount of omega-3 fatty acids) had the highest risk of dry eye syndrome. Even tuna fish (yes, the kind that comes in a can) protected against the syndrome. If you can’t stand fish, or are worried about mercury consumption, try fish-oil supplements to get your omega-3s.
  • Cut back on greasy or sweet snacks. A 2001 study found that people whose diets were high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fatty acids (found in many fat-filled snack foods like commercially prepared pie, cake, cookies, and potato chips) were significantly less likely to develop ARMD than those whose diets were high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, if your diet was high in omega-6 at all – even if you still ate plenty of fish – the protective effects of the omega-3 fatty acids disappeared.
  • Eat sweet potatoes. Since they are rich in vitamin A which can help improve night vision.
  • Turn down the heat in your house. Heat dries out the air, which, in turn, dries out your eyes. In the winter, you might also try adding some humidity with a humidifier or even bunching a lot of plants together in the room in which you spend the most time.
  • Wear sunglasses whenever you leave the house. When researchers examined the relationship between exposure to sunlight and cataracts or ARMD in Chesapeake Bay fishermen, they found that fishermen who protected their eyes from the harsh glare of the sun and its damaging UV rays were significantly less likely to develop these conditions than those who went bare-eyed. Wear the sunglasses even when it’s not sunny out, says Dr. Sheppard. They protect your eyes from the drying effects of wind.
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat along with your sunglasses. A wide-brimmed hat or cap will block roughly 50 percent of the UV radiation and reduce the UV radiation that may enter your eyes from above or around glasses.
  • Pick some Southern greens for dinner tonight. Because they are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, greens like collards and kale (delicious when lightly steamed with a splash of hot pepper vinegar) may reduce your risk of developing both cataracts and ARMD, and may even slow progression of these diseases once they’ve begun. Both have strong antioxidant properties, which may help repair some of the damage that contributes to both conditions.
  • Eat fresh beets. Beets get their deep red color from phytochemicals called anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect the smaller blood vessels in your body, including those in your eyes.
  • Switch to “lite” salt or use spices and herbs instead of salt. Studies find that high-salt diets increase your risk of certain types of cataracts, so stay away from the salty stuff. And while you’re de-salting your diet, don’t forget the salt in processed foods. Check labels for “no-salt” or “no-sodium,” or “low-salt” or “low-sodium” tags when buying canned and other prepared foods.
  • Dab an essential oil of jasmine, peppermint, or vanilla on your arm and sniff. Jasmine, says scent researcher Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., of the Chicago-based Smell and Taste Treatment Research Foundation, increases the beta waves in the frontal lobes of your brain, promoting wakefulness and enabling you to focus better and see things more acutely. All three scents stimulate the limbic system in your brain, which, in turn, stimulates the rods in your eyes, which help you see in dim light.
  • When you’re working or reading, set your alarm to beep every 30 minutes. Use this as a reminder to look up and away from your computer or book to some distant point for 30 seconds. This helps prevent eye fatigue and eyestrain.
  • Check your blood pressure every month. You can do this yourself with a home blood pressure kit, at the doctor’s office, or at the pharmacy. The two leading causes of blindness in the United States are high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which damage blood vessels.
  • Replace your mascara every three months and other eye makeup once a year. Eye makeup is a great repository for bacteria, which can easily be transferred to your eyes and cause infections.
  • Remove eye makeup before going to bed. This prevents small pieces of mascara from winding up in your eye and possibly scratching your cornea.
  • Wear goggles when you’re doing carpentry or even yard work. Debris in the eye can lead to corneal abrasions, which can ultimately damage your vision. Also use protective goggles when you’re swimming to protect your eyes from the chlorine.
  • Use a fresh towel every time you wipe your face. Sharing face towels is a great way to get conjunctivitis, the infection also known as pinkeye.

Prevent Macula Degeneration

Macula degeneration is an eye disease that affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field. Very small, fragile blood vessels begin to leak blood and fluid in the retina causing further damage and the macular degeneration progresses. It is still unknown why parts of the retina become diseased.

It has been shown that a combination of high-dose beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc can reduce the risk of progressing from early to advanced AMD by about 25 percent.

There is pigment in the macula that appears to act as a filter to protect the macular area against oxidation by light. Also this macular pigment can scavenge free radicals. In 2007, a study at the National Eye Institute, Maryland found that Lutein and zeaxanthin protect against macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two yellow colored antioxidants found in leafy greens like spinach and kale, are the predominant pigments in this area.

Eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can lower your risk of macular degeneration.

To get the benefits of these antioxidants, some researchers believe you need to eat about 6 mg a day. But the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin needed to treat macular degeneration rises to about 11-12 mg per day. Because of the quality of diets these days it is estimated that a person only gets 1-2mg per day.

The best sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin are:

  • Kale and spinach
  • Turnip and collard greens
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peas
  • Egg yolk

By far the best source of lutein is in egg yolks. This source is superior because it is more easily absorbed by your body.

Lutein is an oil-soluble nutrient, so in order for the body to absorb it so try adding some fat like olive oil, butter, or coconut oil, to the leafy greens.