“You are what you eat.” That expression has been around for a while; and unfortunately for those suffering vision loss, that doesn’t mean ingesting a pair of good fish eyes is going to give you perfect vision. Luckilyâ€”especially for the squeamishâ€”there are foods out there you can eat that will help prevent vision loss and keep your eyes in-tact. Here are some of the bestâ€”and the worstâ€”foods for your vision.
The good news is that if you’re a person who eats a pretty balanced diet, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, you’re already eating some of the best foods possible. Your eyes are still a part of your body and what’s good for the whole is good for the individual components; the synecdoche factor. That said, you can always tweak your menu to accommodate for foods that will give an extra boost to your vision while you eat.
When trying to find good foods that will target your eyes you want to look for foods that are high in vitamins A, C and E as well as foods that are high in zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and especially those high in the antioxidant beta carotene. Vitamins A and C are going to be your go-to vitamins for protecting against macular degeneration, cataracts and other age related vision impairments. Foods like collard greens, spinach, broccoli, arugula and kale are fantastic vegetable options rich in vitamin A and can make their way easily into most dishes and meals; a bit of arugula or spinach can surprisingly elevate a breakfast sandwich or quiche. Vitamin A deficiencies have also been linked to night-blindness and can help to correct your nocturnal vision problems.
The other major vitamin counterpart, vitamin C, is one you’ve likely been hearing was good for your eyes since you were old enough to be scolded for not eating your carrots. Vitamin C works like a lone gunfighter going through your body and eradicating free radicals that attack and damage parts of your body; in your eyes, vitamin C helps fight against those free radicals in your eyes that can produce corneal and retinal degeneration. Fruits are very rich in vitamin Câ€”especially guava, kiwi, papaya, oranges and other citric fruitsâ€”vitamin C is also found in many of the greens listed above; however, the best sources of vitamin C are in peppers: bell peppers and chili peppers, specifically. Chili peppers have been found to contain upwards of 400% of your recommended daily vitamin C levels!
Vitamin E is important, too, as it protects against risk of contracting cataracts and the ever ubiquitous macular degeneration that wants to invade your eyes. Nuts like almonds, sunflower seeds and wheat germ are great reserves for vitamin E.
Some of the best ingredients for good eyes are in the antioxidants and minerals. Beta carotene is considered by many to be the best food for your eyes. The reddish-orange provitamin found in apricots, carrots, papaya, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and other squashes gets converted into vitamin A, helping to repair the lens and assure proper blood flow; this antioxidant is also present inâ€”you guessed itâ€”leafy greens like kale, spinach and collards. Zinc is an important antioxidant and has been proven to be one of the factors in night blindness; the mineral is a major part of your eye and is involved in much of the enzyme regulation that goes on. Zinc is found in oysters and other shell fish as well as beef, eggs and milk. Magnesium has been found to prevent glaucoma and aids in circulation and nerve efficiency in the eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in eggs and cold water fish, are great for improving blood flow, the lack of which can result in macular degeneration.
Many of these foods listed contain a mix of these important vitamins as well as several additional antioxidants. One of the best, spinach has a great amount of beta carotene, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthanâ€”these last two antioxidants have been called natural sunglasses as they absorb a great deal of incoming blue light.
Now that we’ve got the best foods for your eyes laid out, let’s take a look at some of the worst foods for your eyes.
Fried foods come up as the number one worst food for your eyes because they essentially filch out any of the positive nutrients found in any food and replace it with caustic free radicals. Whatever vitamin A, C and beta carotene you thought you were getting from your kale have been completely removed after you’ve deep-fried it. In addition to polluting your body with free radicals, you’ve also upped the calorie intake with a litany of fats: saturated fats, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fats. These kinds of hazardous fats increase the risk of eye disease as well as raise your overall blood pressureâ€”which can have serious effects in the eyes. Sugary foods, too, are awful for your eyesâ€”especially for your retinasâ€”as they create spikes in blood pressure and can lead to, in addition with the previously listed items, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and a wealth of other conditions hazardous to your body as a whole; and remember what happens to the whole can effect what happens to the individual parts. All of these foods can lead to lowering your defenses against macular degeneration and increase your chances of ulcers, cataracts and glaucoma.
Eating for better vision doesn’t require that you drastically change your dietâ€”and indeed, many might have found that their current, well-balanced diet was represented above. When in doubt just think, “Is this good for my body as a whole?” If the answer is “no,” you can bet it won’t be good for your eyes.
About The Author: Emily Joseph has had the pleasure of writing for QualSight for quite a while now. When she is not too busy writing or reviewing Lasik providers, she spends her free time staying up to date in the recent happenings in the Ophthalmology field.