Most people are already aware that certain vitamins and minerals can have a positive effect on eye health. It has long been understood, for instance, that the vitamin A contained in carrots promotes good vision. In general, any orange-colored fruit or vegetable has significant beta-carotene levels and will be instrumental in maintaining optimal vision. However, there are several other lesser known foods that promote healthy eyes. Leafy greens such as kale, for instance, contain substantial amounts of antioxidants; lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which have been found to decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts. Spinach, mustard greens and dark leaf lettuce are alternatives for those who do not care for kale.
Many people are surprised to learn that eggs are a good food to include in their diet if one is seeking to decrease their risk of macular degeneration. The yolks contain a large quantity of lutein and zeaxanthin as well as zinc. Oysters, turkey and chickpeas also contain significant amounts of zinc.
Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits that are high in vitamin C also help prevent macular degeneration. Other foods that are significant for eye health include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries. People who are already showing symptoms of macular degeneration may actually be able to slow the progress of this disease by consuming a couple handfuls of almonds on a daily basis. Almonds contain large amounts of vitamin E, which has been found instrumental in slowing down the development of macular degeneration. Other foods that contain large levels of vitamin E include wheat germ, peanut butter, avocados, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds.
Those who suffer from dry eye syndrome should include tuna, mackerel, trout, anchovies, sardines, and salmon in their diets. Fatty fish are high in certain Omega-3 acids and have been found to aid in helping to keep the retinas moisturized.
Riboflavin is another important dietary ingredient for maintaining good eye health. Foods containing riboflavin include yogurt, skim milk and mushrooms. Drinking green or black tea has also been found to help reduce the chances of cataract development. Other ways to optimize eye health are to have an eye exam on a regular basis (we can help you with that, with our ability to see patients in Longmont, Lafayette, Boulder, and Greeley!), always wear sunglasses containing UV protection while outside, lose weight, and quit smoking if these are issues for you. Both tobacco and excess body weight have been linked to higher percentages of macular degeneration.
Take time to make healthy food choices, and help keep your eyes healthy!