Keeping our eyes healthy is an important way to help prevent age-related eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, vision loss, dry eyes, cataracts, and problems with night vision. While an overall healthy, active lifestyle is the key to bright eyes, adding more of these six healthy foods to your diet will help keep them sparkling and strong.
Carrots may be the food best known for helping your eyes. But other foods and their nutrients may be more important for keeping your eyesight keen as you age.
Vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids all play a role in eye health. They can help prevent cataracts, clouding of your eye lens. They may also fight the most-likely cause of vision loss when you’re older: age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
“It’s always best to get the nutrients we know help vision from foods,” says Elizabeth J. Johnson, Ph.D. She’s a research scientist and associate professor at Tufts University in Boston. “Foods may contain many other nutrients we aren’t aware of that may help, too.”
Antioxidants protect against eye damage from things like sunlight, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. These leafy greens are loaded with two of the best for eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin.
“They get into the lens and retina of your eye, and they are believed to absorb damaging visible light,” Johnson says.
Most people are short on these two nutrients, but it’s an easy fix.
“Eating a cooked 10-ounce block of frozen spinach over the course of a week will help lower your risk of age-related eye disease,” Johnson says. Kale has double these nutrients. Collard greens, broccoli, and bright-colored fruits like kiwis and grapes are ways to get them, too.
Vitamin C is a top antioxidant. These foods are among the top sources of vitamin C. Eat half a grapefruit and a handful of Brussels sprouts or strawberries (one-half cup) a day, and you’re good to go. Papaya, oranges, and green peppers are other good sources.
Vitamins C and E work together to keep healthy tissue strong. But most of us don’t get as much vitamin E as we should from food. Have a small handful of sunflower seeds, or use a tablespoon of wheat germ oil in your salad dressing for a big boost. Almonds, pecans, and vegetable oils are also good sources.
Just two oysters give you more than enough daily zinc, which keeps the retina of your eye in top working order. A turkey sandwich is a great source, too. Zinc can also be found in other meats, eggs, peanuts, and whole grains.
The omega-3 fatty acids that keep your heart and brain health may also protect your eyes by fighting inflammation and helping cells work better. Aim for at least two servings of cold-water fish a week. Salmon, sardines, and herring have the most omega-3s, but flounder, halibut, and tuna are also good sources.