Important foods and nutrients for healthy eyes

March 01, 2023

family of four in kitchen making dinner with bell peppersEating a diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help not only your heart but also your eyes. Your eyes rely on tiny arteries for oxygen and nutrients, just as the heart relies on much larger arteries. Therefore, keeping arteries healthy will also help your eyes.

Below are some specific foods that can help protect vision and eyes, from the experts at Superior Vision, administrators of the State of Texas Vision plan.

  1. Fatty fish have high levels of omega 3. These include tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. They can lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eye.
  2. Nuts and legumes. These are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, nuts contain a high level of vitamin E, which can protect the eye from age-related damage. Nuts and legumes that are good for eye health include walnuts, cashews, peanuts and lentils.
  3. Seeds. Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3 and are a rich source of vitamin E. These include chia, flax, sunflower and hemp seeds.
  4. Citrus fruits. These include lemons, oranges and grapefruitsThey are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that is recommended by the AOA to fight age-related eye damage.   
  5. Leafy green vegetables. Spinach, kale and collards are rich in both lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants) and are a good source of vitamin C.  They can lower the risk of AMD and dry eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin can help protect eyes from harmful high-energy light waves like ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Studies suggest that a high level of both in eye tissue is linked with better vision, especially in dim light or where glare is a problem.
  6. Carrots. They are rich in both Vitamin A and beta carotene. Vitamin A plays an essential role in vision. It is a component of a protein called rhodopsin, which helps the retina to absorb light. Research on beta carotene’s role in vision is mixed, though the body needs this nutrient to make vitamin A. Also, without enough vitamin A, your eyes can’t stay moist enough to prevent dry eye.
  7. Sweet potatoes.  Like carrots, they are rich in beta carotene. They are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E (also found in avocadoes and almonds).
  8. Beef.  Red meat is rich in zincwhich has been linked to better long-term eye health. Zinc can help delay age-related sight loss and macular degeneration. The eye itself contains high levels of zinc, particularly in the retina, and the vascular tissue surrounding the retina. Chicken breast and pork loin also contain zinc, but at lower levels than red meat.
  9. Eggs. They are an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin as well as vitamins C and E, and zinc.
  10. Water.  Drinking plenty of water can prevent dehydration, which may reduce symptoms of dry eye.