Please consult your family doctor and eye care professional prior to beginning any supplements, as there are medical conditions that may contraindicate the use of these supplements. Also, the information provided in this article is not to be used as medical advice.
Did you know that vitamins and antioxidants found in many of our everyday foods play a large role in maintaining our eye health.? Keeping our eyes healthy is an important way to help prevent age-related eye diseases including macular degeneration, dry eyes, and cataracts.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in North Americans over the age of 55. This condition affects the macula, the area of the eye where our sharpest vision comes from. Genetics, high blood pressure, and smoking are risk factors however studies show that diet can affect the eye’s ability to prevent or slow the progression of this disease.
Dry eyes can cause symptoms that are commonly experienced. Dry eyes occur when your tears are not able to provide enough moisture for healthy functioning. Symptoms can include but are not limited to redness, burning, and a scratchy sensation. Dry eyes can have many causes, for example, aging, side effects of specific medications or environmental influences.
A cataract is a clouding of the clear lens in the eye. A cataract is like viewing through a foggy or frosty window. There are risk factors that increase your risk of cataracts such as aging, diabetes, excessive exposure to sunlight and prolonged use of corticosteroids.
Here are a few healthy eye nutrients:
Beta-carotene & Vitamin C
- Beta-carotene and vitamin C to play an important role in our eye health. Our colorful bright orange fruits vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, apricots, yams and bell peppers are sources of these vitamins.
- Vitamin E can be found in almonds, avocados and wheat germ. This vitamin protects the eyes from “free-radicals”, which are particles in our atmosphere that can be responsible for promoting both macular degeneration and cataracts.
Dark leafy greens
- Dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach contain lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients have antioxidant functions that have been proven to slow the progression of macular degeneration. By keeping the macula well nourished we protect by acting as a pair of natural sunglasses and absorbing blue light.
- Zinc and omega-3 aid in fighting macular degeneration. Zinc can be found in beans or lentils and omega-3s are naturally found in fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. And as a bonus, omega-3s are also great for dry eye!
There are a variety of nutritional supplements that your optometrist can recommend if they see signs of decreased eye health during your regular eye exam. Food provides nutrients in the right amounts. With an active lifestyle, a healthy diet and a pair of sunglasses, we can start fighting eye disease sooner and have clear vision for longer.