While it is common sense that eating a nutritious diet is good for your overall health, there are specific foods that can improve your eyesight. If you have a family history of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or wear prescription glasses or contacts, you should educate yourself on how to improve your eye health naturally. The following guide provides you with a place to start planning an eye-healthy diet.
Fruit and Nuts
In addition to being a great way to satisfy snack cravings in-between meals, eating some types of fruit and nuts can help to bolster your eye health. These healthy foods contain vitamin A, a nutrient essential for maintaining healthy retinas and preventing night blindness. Citrus and other fruit with vitamin C help to prevent the formation of cataracts.
Some nuts contain vitamin E which also helps to slow the growth of cataracts and prevents the breakdown of healthy eye tissue.
Great fruit and nut choices include:
- Sunflower seeds
Unhealthy carbohydrates exacerbate health issues that influence your eyesight, such as diabetes. If you suffer from diabetes you are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than non-diabetics. Once you have glaucoma, you will require treatment from an ophthalmologist at a place like Advanced Retinal Institute Inc.
Instead of carrying around candy bars and hard candies to tide you over in between major meals, carry snack packs of dried fruit and nuts for quick, tasty snacks. In addition, when you substitute fruit for candy, potato chips and donuts you will not have to worry about calories consumed or the other negative side effects of eating too much sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Fish, especially salmon, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, powerful nutrients that are essential to your overall health and protect you against many diseases including AMD, a condition that causes gradual vision loss and affects millions of people.
A diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids can significantly reduce your risk of developing AMD and suffering from disease symptoms such as blurred vision, changes in your color perception and blind spots.
The body does not produce omega-3 fatty acids naturally so you need to obtain the nutrients via food or supplements. Even if you only eat fish once a week, you will reap the benefits of the fatty acids. In addition to salmon, other types of fish rich in the nutrients include:
- Lake trout
Shellfish such as shrimp are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor about consuming seafood. Fish oil supplements and flaxseed oil may be safer options for obtaining omega-3 fatty acids during the prenatal and breastfeeding periods.
While it is well known that carrots can improve eye health, there are many other tasty vegetables besides the orange root vegetable that can help your eyesight. The antioxidants in other vegetables, including different types of leafy greens, also protect eyes from the effects of air pollution and cigarette smoke.
Also popularly referred to as "superfoods," the nutrients in these greens also help to lessen your chances of developing cataracts and lower your risk for AMD, two conditions that require care from eye specialists.
Ideal vegetables for your healthy diet include:
- Orange bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Green peppers
- Sweet potatoes
Even if you are already suffering from macular degeneration, a diet rich in superfoods can help you slow the progression of the disease. In addition, Brussels sprouts, kale and spinach also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Supplements, Herbs and Teas
While it is always best to get the vitamins and minerals you need from natural sources, you can take supplements to make sure that you receive enough nutrients. In addition, if you are at a high risk for developing AMD, your ophthalmologist may suggest that you take a supplement called AREDS 2.
AREDS 2 is a special formula of nutrients known to improve eye health, including vitamins C and E as well as zinc oxide and copper oxide.
Certain herbs including ginkgo and bilberry can also help to keep your eyes healthy. You can consume these herbs in teas or in tablet form. Green and oolong tea are also rich in nutrients that benefit eye health.
If you are at a loss at how to incorporate any of the above healthy foods into your everyday life, bookmark a few cooking websites that offer free recipes in your Web browser or purchase cookbooks that focus on healthy foods.