Nutrition for Healthy Eyes
Five tips to keep your eyes (and everything else) healthy as you age.
Q. I am 42 years old and have started to notice "floaters" in my field of vision. My doctor says it's because my eyes are aging. Are there foods that I can eat to help protect my eyes? I've seen supplements for this but I'd rather find natural sources.
A. Several nutrients have been associated with a reduced risk of age-related vision problems. But I agree with you 100%: it's always preferable to get our nutrients from foods rather than supplements! Here are my top nutrition tips for healthy eyes. (As a bonus, these tips help ward off the effects of aging on the rest of the body as well.)
1. Eat Your lutein. This antioxidant from the vitamin A family has a particular affinity for the eyes. Diets high in lutein help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Your best sources are dark leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach, mustard greens, watercress, and parsley.
See also: Are Herbs Nutritious?
2. Up Your Omega-3s. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are high in essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation and protect against age-related changes in the eye. Eat one to two servings a week.
See also: Fish Oil and Omega-3s
3. Rein in Your Sugar Intake. A high-sugar diet can harm your eyes in two ways. Sugar promotes a process called glycation, which can cause irreversible damage to the proteins in your eye. High blood sugar (such as with Type 2 diabetes) can also damage the nerves in your eyes and cause vision impairment.
See also: Why is Sugar Bad?
4. Wear Sunglasses. A lifetime of UV radiation from the sun contributes to cataracts and macular degeneration. Protect your vision by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses when you are outside.
5. Quit Smoking. As if you needed one more reason to stop, smoking increases your risk of cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock