Eat your carrots, or so we’ve been told. Is there any truth to that, though? Can eyesight be improved naturally? What is the best food for eyesight improvement? It turns out that there are certain foods good for vision. They contain key vitamins and nutrients that optimize ocular health.
Can Eyesight Be Improved Naturally?
Unfortunately, eyesight cannot be improved naturally and there is no way to change a refractive error, such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, or presbyopia. These types of visual conditions can be treated with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
However, there can be other reasons for diminished eyesight. Macular degeneration causes diminished eyesight but can respond favorably to nutritional changes. In that instance, there are foods that may improve eyesight without glasses.
What Vitamins Are Good for Eyesight?
Certain vitamin deficiencies can negatively impact how we see. Our ocular health depends on the balance of many nutrients, but some key vitamins improve eyesight.
In terms of what vitamins are good for eyesight, vitamin A is an essential nutrient for the eyes. Although there are different vitamins that may help eyesight, vitamin A is particularly beneficial. Vitamin A is a broad term used for a group of compounds called retinoids. Retinol is the form of vitamin A derived from animal foods. In the eyes, retinol is taken up by the retinal cells to make a pigment called rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is used by rod cells in the eye to enable vision in low light. When vitamin A is deficient, problems with night vision can develop.
Xerophthalmia is the term used to describe the constellation of symptoms that arise from vitamin A deficiency, including night blindness and dry eyes.
Our body is constantly producing what are called free radicals. These are byproducts of our metabolic processes that take place every day of our waking life. Our body also produces antioxidants, which combat these free radicals. When there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, oxidative stress occurs. Oxidative stress is responsible for many aging processes, including cataract formation.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that we can take to fend off free radicals and possibly delay cataract formation. It has also been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration, a potentially blinding age-related condition.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that has been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration.
There is a myriad of B vitamins out there, and several of them have been found to be beneficial to the eyes. Folate, B6, and B12 may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Taking a B complex may also delay the onset of cataracts.
What vitamin is good for eyesight? Although there isn’t just one, lutein is pretty high up on the list. It is one of the best vitamins to help eyesight.
Lutein is a carotenoid related to vitamin A and beta-carotene. It is beneficial for the macula, slowing the progression of macular degeneration. It has the ability to filter out blue light emitted by digital devices. It may also delay cataract progression.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Another beneficial vitamin for eyesight is omega-3 fatty acids; there are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA that are beneficial for eye health. The retina of the eye has high amounts of DHA which helps to maintain the function of the eye. This fatty acid is also integral to the brain and eye development, meaning that if a child is deficient in DHA, their vision may be impaired.
According to evidence, taking omega-3 supplements could benefit those who have dry eye disease. A study conducted on individuals with dry eyes revealed that taking EPA and DHA supplements every day for three months resulted in a significant reduction in dry eye symptoms.
Best Foods for Eye Health
There are several foods good for eye health that contain many key nutrients for the eyes.
Fatty fish contains essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3s. Omega-3s are a part of every cell membrane and therefore play a key role in every cell in the body.
In the eyes, omega-3s have been found to be beneficial for dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction. They also may help with macular degeneration.
Nutrition varies depending on the type, but most nuts are powerhouses, containing high levels of protein, essential fatty acids, and fiber.
Some nuts, such as almonds and hazelnuts, are particularly rich in the antioxidant vitamin E.
Seeds are another rich source of essential fatty acids. They can serve as an alternate source of omega-3s for those that don’t eat fish.
Sunflower seeds are especially rich in vitamin E, a key antioxidant found to be beneficial to the eye.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, another key antioxidant for the eye. Refreshing sources include lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange.
When it comes to foods that help vision, leafy greens receive a high score. They are rich in key vitamins to improve eyesight. Not only do they contain the antioxidant vitamin C, but they are also packed with lutein, a very important carotenoid for the eyes. That spinach won’t just make your muscles stronger; it’ll also strengthen your vision!
Sweet potatoes are rich in a few key ocular nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, and lutein. Substituting white potatoes for the sweet variety not only decreases glycemic load, but it’s also food for eyesight.
Eggs are a great source of vitamin C, E, and lutein. They also contain another carotenoid related to lutein, called zeaxanthin. When it comes to foods that help eyesight, eggs score well. Their combination of nutrients is optimal for fighting macular degeneration.
Beef is another good food for eyesight improvement. It’s rich in Zinc, which has been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration.
Legumes are a great source of Zinc as well, and offer a great alternative to meat, with their high protein content. When it comes to foods that improve vision, lentils are some of the healthiest, with no saturated fat and high fiber content.
Other Tips to Increase Eyesight
In addition to knowing what foods are good for eyesight, there are other measures you can take to improve your health and protect your vision.
Be Careful with Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are common in today’s world, and making sure you’re caring for them properly is essential to keeping your eyes healthy. If you wear contact lenses, wash your hands before handling them and only wear them for the doctor's recommended length of time. Don’t ever sleep in them. These basic rules will decrease your risk of eye infection.
Eat Healthy Foods
The best eye health stems from a healthy diet. Make sure you’re getting plenty of nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, lutein, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Reach for green, leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach and try to incorporate salmon, tuna, or other types of oily fish into your diet. Eggs, beans, and nuts are also beneficial as well as oranges and other citrus fruits.
Smoking can increase your risk of developing cataracts, cause damage to your optic nerve, and result in macular degeneration. If you smoke, do whatever you can to quit as soon as possible. The more times you try to quit, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed. Not only is quitting smoking good for your general health, but it’ll lower your risk of eye disease.
Always Wear Sunglasses
Wear sunglasses. It’ll decrease your risk of several ocular conditions, including cataracts, macular degeneration, pterygium, and eyelid cancers. Sunlight can sneak in through the top, bottom, or sides of sunglasses, so aim for full coverage to optimize their protection.
Wear Protective Eyewear
Not all work environments are ideal for the safety of your eyes. Many industries such as manufacturing or construction often involve handling hazardous or airborne materials. If you are working with wood, metal, or chemicals, always wear eye protection. The same holds for sports such as ice hockey, racquetball, and lacrosse; always wear the proper protective eyewear! Even if your career consists of looking at a screen all day, you’ll want to invest in blue-light blocking glasses to keep your eyes safe and healthy.
Take Breaks from the Computer Screen
As we briefly mentioned above, the computer screen can cause more damage to your eyes than you may be aware of. When using the computer for long periods of time, be sure to always take breaks to allow your eyes to rest. Staring too long at a screen can result in damage from blue light exposure. You can also use artificial tears to keep the eyes moist and lubricated if you have to spend an extended amount of time looking at a screen.
Visit Your Eye Doctor Regularly
When’s the last time you visited your Chicago eye doctor for an eye exam? Even young children should regularly visit the eye doctor for an exam. It’s an easy way to proactively catch diseases such as glaucoma that don’t present with any symptoms. The earlier that you spot potential eye disease, the easier the condition is to treat. During your eye exam, you may discuss your personal and family medical history, vision tests, eye pressure check, optic nerve tests, external and microscopic exams, and more.
So, exactly what foods help eyesight? Although there are no foods that restore eyesight, eating certain key nutrients that can protect your vision from deteriorating.
It is indeed worth watching what you eat, ingesting food for good eyesight can benefit you for years to come. Interested in more ways to improve your vision? Call The Kraff Eye Institute for a consultation today.