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We've all been told to eat our carrots, to have good eyesight. But is there any truth to that? Can you improve your eyesight naturally? What are the best foods for eyesight improvement? It turns out that there are certain foods that are beneficial for vision as they contain key vitamins and nutrients that boost eye health.
Can Eyesight Be Improved Naturally?
Unfortunately, eyesight cannot be improved naturally and there's no way to change a refractive error, such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, or presbyopia. These visual conditions can be treated with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
While there are various reasons for diminished eyesight, age-related macular degeneration is one notable cause. It's believed that incorporating foods that are good for the eyes into your diet can potentially enhance vision and your overall eye health. In rare cases, it can even reduce reliance on glasses. Let's explore some specific vitamins and nutrient foods that can help keep your eyes healthy.
Which Vitamins Are Good for Eyesight?
Certain vitamin deficiencies can negatively impact how we see. Our ocular health depends on the balance of several nutrients, but there are specific vitamins that can improve our eye health.
Let's start with vitamin A. This is an essential nutrient for the eyes. Although there are different vitamins that are beneficial for eyesight, vitamin A is particularly beneficial to help you achieve healthy eyes. Vitamin A is a broad term used to describe 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.
Another important vitamin for eye health is vitamin C. Our body is constantly producing free radicals. Simply put, 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 an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants occurs, it results in oxidative stress. This type of 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, an age-related eye disease that can lead to significant vision loss.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that has been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration.
There's a myriad of B vitamins out there, and several are beneficial to the eyes. Folate, B6, and B12 may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Consider taking a B complex to potentially 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. This is one of the best vitamins to help eyesight.
Lutein is a carotenoid related to vitamin A and beta-carotene, it benefits the macula, possibly slowing the progression of macular degeneration. It has the ability to filter out blue light emitted by digital devices and it may also delay cataract progression.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Another beneficial vitamin for the eyes 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 has high amounts of DHA which helps maintain the eye's function. This fatty acid is also integral to brain and eye development, meaning that if a child is deficient in DHA, their vision could be impaired.
Evidence shows that taking omega-3 fish oil supplements could benefit those who suffer from dry eye disease. For example, 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 to Keep the Eyes Healthy
But what about incorporating particular foods into your diet? There are several foods that contain key nutrients that are good for your vision. Understanding the right nutrition for eye health is essential for maintaining clear vision and preventing future eye issues. Here are some foods to maintain your eye health.
Fatty fish contains essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3s. Omega-3s are a part of every cell membrane and play a key role in every cell in the body.
In the eyes, omega-3s have been found to be beneficial for those who suffer with dry eyes and meibomian gland dysfunction. They also may help with macular degeneration. Next time you're at the store, pick up some salmon, tuna, or another fish that you love.
Nutritional values vary 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. Eat them on top of yogurt or grab a handful when you're hungry.
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.
For example, sunflower seeds are especially rich in vitamin E, a key antioxidant found to be beneficial to the eye.
#4. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, another key antioxidant for the eye. Refreshing sources include lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges.
#5. Leafy Greens
When it comes to foods that help vision, leafy green vegetables should always be on your grocery list. They're rich in key vitamins that contribute to good eyesight. Not only do they contain the antioxidant vitamin C, but they're 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!
#6. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in several key ocular nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, and lutein. An easy swap of white potatoes for the sweet variety can decrease glycemic load.
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 support eyesight, eggs are high on our list. They have an optimal combination of nutrients for fighting macular degeneration.
Beef is another good food for maintaining eye health. It’s rich in zinc, which has been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration.
Legumes, such as lentils and kidney beans, are another great source of zinc and are a great alternative to meat, with their high protein content. Lentils are some of the healthiest foods to improve your eye health as they have no saturated fat and a high fiber content.
#10. Dairy Products
Milk and yogurt offer multiple benefits for eye wellness. Beyond their calcium and phosphorus content, they're rich in vitamin A and zinc. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in safeguarding the cornea, while zinc facilitates the delivery of vitamin A from the liver to the eyes. Plus, zinc aids in nighttime vision and supports cataract prevention. Consider sipping on grass-fed milk either in the morning or before bedtime, and enjoy yogurt post-lunch or as a mid-day treat.
Other Tips to Increase Eyesight
Maintaining your visual health isn't just about what you eat. While we encourage you to incorporate the above foods into your diet, 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. Here are some basic rules to decrease your risk of infection. If you wear contact lenses, make sure to always wash your hands before handling them. You should only wear them for the length of time recommended by your doctor and don’t ever sleep in them, to minimize your risk of infections.
Eat Healthy Foods
Superior 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. The more variety of whole foods you can add to your diet, the better you'll be able to maintain quality vision while preventing problems.
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 integral to a healthy lifestyle and good for your general health, but it will also lower your risk of eye disease.
Always Wear Sunglasses
Another easy tip is to wear sunglasses, they 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 try to find full-coverage lenses that fit your face properly 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're working with wood, metal, or chemicals, always wear eye protection. This is also true 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, the computer screen can cause more damage to your eyes than you may be aware of. If you're using the computer for long periods of time, 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 was 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. Don't overlook this important part of securing your eye health!
This is an easy way to proactively catch diseases such as glaucoma that don’t always 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 can restore eyesight, eating certain food that contain key nutrients can protect your vision from deteriorating.
It's indeed worth watching what you eat, ingesting food for good eye health can benefit you for years to come. Are you interested in more ways to improve your vision? Contact Chicago's Leading LASIK Eye Surgery Center Kraff Eye Institute for a consultation. Our team is here to help you combat the aging eye and ensure your eyes are healthy for years to come.