Nutrients for Eye Health
Out of the five senses that you have, your eyesight is probably considered the most important. If you look after yourself in general, your eyesight will be helped in this aspect. However, there are some little extra steps that you can take that can be important for your eye health, particularly with the nutrients that you consume. They can help towards maintaining eye functions, protecting your eyes and reduce the chances of receiving age-related diseases. Here’s a run through of some nutrients that can help your eyes.
What Are Common Eye Diseases?
Before we get into the types of nutrients that can help your eyes, it’ll be good to run through the types of diseases that are common for the eyes. The chances are, as you get older you’re more likely to develop a form of eye disease.
Cataracts - This is one of the most common forms of eye diseases and involves the eyes becoming clouded. This leads to vision impairment and potentially complete blindness.
Diabetic Retinopathy - This is closely related to diabetes and is again a major cause of blindness. Retinopathy forms when the body contains high blood sugar levels, causing blood vessels in the retina to burst.
Dry Eye Disease - This forms when the eyes have insufficient tear fluid. When the eyes dry up it can easily cause discomfort and potentially lead to visual problems.
Glaucoma - Visual information is transferred from your eyes to your brain to help the body understand the figures that lay in front of them. This process is possible through the optic nerve. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that hinders this process, causing poorer eyesight and potential blindness.
Your chances of developing these conditions can be dependant on a number of factors including genetics, lifestyle, diet and genes.
What Nutrients Can Improve My Eyesight?
- Vitamin A
Having a deficiency of Vitamin A is considered one of the major causes of blindness in the world. This is because it’s crucial in helping your eyes adjust to lighting. They’re also known as your photoreceptors. Deficiency in vitamin A can cause several issues including dry eyes and night blindness. How extensive the deficiency can determine whether the conditions are more serious.
You can improve vitamin A deficiency through foods such as egg yolks, liver and assorted dairy products.
- Omega 3-Fatty Acids
Omega 3-fatty acids contain EPA and DHA acids which are helpful for your eye health.
There are many traces of DHA found in your retina, which can help to maintain eye function which is why lack of DHA can contribute towards impaired vision. Taking omega-3 supplements can also help contribute towards dry eye disease.
- Vitamin C
It’s considered that your eyes require the most antioxidants out of all the organs in your body. How it can be beneficial is from the fluids found in the aqueous humour of your eye. The concentration levels of Vitamin C are found here more than any other liquid in the body.
It can be improved by taking more vitamin C so supplements or taking foods with high levels of vitamin C can contribute to this improvement. Examples such as citrus fruits and vegetables are where you’ll find the majority of vitamin C.
Zinc is also another enzyme that’s found in the eyes. A powerful antioxidant, zinc’s role in the eye is actually quite essential; working to form pigments. Therefore, if you find yourself with a zinc deficiency this can result in something known as night blindness.
A common myth is that carrots help you see in the dark, but the zinc content in this vegetable isn’t that high - so we can see this tall tale for the myth that it really is. If you want to introduce more zinc into your diet naturally in order to benefit your eyesight, then foods such as shellfish, meat, seeds, eggs and dark chocolate will be much more effective sources of zinc.
A healthy lifestyle - including the right exercise and a balanced diet - can help to prevent a number of long-term health issues; including the eye problems listed earlier in this piece. Ensuring the proper intake of the above nutrients could work to improve your overall eye health for a long period of time.
However, it is also vital that you do not neglect other parts of your body in favour of only one body part. An overall healthy lifestyle will have the biggest benefit to your body, eyes and all.
Author: Jamie Costello BSc Second Class (Hons) Nutritional Sciences, RSPH Level 2 Award in Nutrition
Created: 26 May 2019, Last modified: 4 Mar 2020