Maintaining Eye Health
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It is amazing but the foods you eat are an important factor in maintaining good eye health. People often believe that failing eyesight is an inevitable result of aging or eye strain. In truth, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of eye health problems.
What we eat and drink has a huge impact on our overall health. In this article, I am going to cover some of the foods that contribute to your eyesight. Yes, there are supplements and certain types of herbs that we can take to promote better vision and avoid disease. Your age does not necessarily have to equate to diminishing the quality of your sight.
In 2001 an article published by, “The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that certain nutrients- zinc, copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene may reduce the risk of age-related decline in eye health by 25 percent.
Foods for Good Sight Health
Many fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Oily fish are fish that have oil in their gut and body tissue, so eating them offers higher levels of omega-3-rich fish oil. The fish that contains the most beneficial levels of omega-3s include:
Some studies have found that fish oil can reverse dry eye, including dry eye caused by spending too much time on a computer.
2. Nuts and legumes
Nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts also contain a high level of vitamin E, which can protect the eye from age-related damage.
Nuts are available for purchase in most grocery stores and online. Nuts and legumes that are good for eye health include:
- Brazil nuts
Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E.
Seeds are available for purchase in most grocery stores and online. Seeds high in omega-3 include:
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- hemp seeds
4. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Just like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is recommended to fight age-related eye damage.
Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits include:
5. Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich in both lutein and zeaxanthin and are also a good source of eye-friendly vitamin C.
Well-known leafy greens include:
Carrots are rich in both Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Beta carotene gives carrots their orange color.
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.
7. Sweet potatoes
Like carrots, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene. They are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.
Beef is rich in zinc, which 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.
Meats such as chicken breast and pork loin also contain zinc but at lower levels than beef.
Eggs are an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which can reduce the risk of age-related sight loss. Eggs are also good sources of vitamins C and E, and zinc.
It may come as no surprise that a fluid essential to life is also vital to eye health.
Drinking plenty of water can prevent dehydration, which may reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.
Recommended daily intake:
The current daily recommendations for healthy eye nutrients, as suggested by the AAO to slow the progression of eye disease, are:
- 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
- 400 international units of vitamin E
- 10 mg lutein
- 2 mg zeaxanthin
- 80 mg of zinc oxide
- 2 mg of copper oxide
According to the AAO, the following strategies can help to ensure healthy eyes:
- wearing sunglasses outside, since excessive sun exposure can cause cataracts.
- stopping smoking
- getting regular eye exams, particularly if there is a family history of eye disease
- Wearing eye protection when working with possible eye irritants or dangerous chemicals
- washing hands before applying contacts
- wearing contacts only for the period recommended by the doctor or manufacturer
- Protecting eyes from computer-related eye strain by looking away every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds
Early treatment for eye health problems can prevent them from getting worse. So people who notice changes in their vision should schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
There are certain vitamins that are helpful in maintaining good eye site health and protecting your eyes from some diseases.
Deficiencies in particular vitamins can increase the risk of some eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research suggests that some vitamin and mineral supplements may help protect against or slow the development of these conditions.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can blur the sharp, central vision you need for activities like reading and driving. “Age-related” means that it often happens in older people. “Macular” means it affects a part of your eye called the macula.
AMD is a common condition — it’s a leading cause of vision loss for people age 50 and older. AMD doesn’t cause complete blindness, but losing your central vision can make it harder to see faces, drive, or do close-up work like cooking or fixing things around the house.
1. Vitamin A and beta carotene
Vitamin A is essential for good vision. It is a component of the protein rhodopsin, which allows the eye to see in low-light conditions. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a deficiency in vitamin A can lead to night blindness.
Vitamin A also supports the function of the cornea, which is the protective outer layer of the eye. A person who is deficient in vitamin A may find that their eyes produce too little moisture to stay lubricated.
Beta carotene is the primary source of vitamin A in the human diet. Beta carotene is a type of plant pigment called a carotenoid that exists in many colorful fruits and vegetables. When a person consumes carotenoids, their body converts the pigments into vitamin A.
2. Vitamin E
Alpha-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E that has particularly powerful antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which damage tissues throughout the body. Sometimes, free radicals may damage proteins within the eye. This damage can result in the development of cloudy areas called cataracts on the lens of the eye.
A 2014 review looked at studies linking vitamin E to the prevention of cataracts. Some of the research found that lens clarity was better in people who took vitamin E supplements.
However, the authors note that a separate study showed that vitamin E supplements had no effect on the progression of cataracts. They conclude that further research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of vitamin E supplements in preventing and slowing cataract development.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative damage.
Oxidative damage is a key factor in two of the most common age-related cataracts: cortical and nuclear cataracts. Cortical cataracts develop on the edges of the lens, while nuclear cataracts occur deep in its center or “nucleus.”
At the start of the study, the researchers measured the participants’ cataracts. They then tracked each participant’s intake of vitamin C and other nutrients over 10 years.
At the end of the study period, the researchers remeasured cataracts in 324 pairs of twins. The participants who reported consuming more vitamin C showed a 33% reduction in the risk of cataract progression. They also had clearer lenses overall.
4. B vitamins
A 2009 study suggests that daily supplementation with a combination of vitamins B-6, B-9, and B-12 may reduce the risk of AMD. AMD is a degenerative eye disease that affects the vision.
However, this particular study only included women. Further research is, therefore, necessary to support the use of B vitamins in preventing AMD in both women and men.
An older study looked at nutrient intake and eye health in 2,900 people between the ages of 49 and 97 years. The findings revealed that higher intakes of protein, vitamin A, and the B vitamins riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin had an association with a lower rate of nuclear cataracts.
A 2018 nationwide study in South Korea found a link between a reduced intake of vitamin B-3, or niacin, and glaucoma. In people with glaucoma, a buildup of fluid within the eye puts pressure on the optic nerve. Over time, this can damage the nerve, resulting in vision loss.
This herb has been used for centuries for problems with the central nervous system as well as a remedy for eye problems. Ginkgo is a selective vascular dilator that increases circulation and blood flow to the back of the eye. Ginkgo has been associated with improvements for those suffering from both glaucoma and macular degeneration. Researchers in Korea found in a study done in 2012 that ginkgo Biloba extracts applied to 332 subjects with normal-tension glaucoma, had improved vision.
Most people think of goldenseal as a natural antibiotic. Scientists show us that this ancient herb, used by Native Americans for hundreds of years, has anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antibiotic compounds that can be terrific when it comes to improving eye health. When used as eyewash, this herb is super effective at treating eye irritation, and stopping infections such as staph, and trachoma.
This herb has so much to offer besides supporting a healthy liver. However, weak eyesight or blurry vision is sometimes a reflection of our liver health. This might mean that what is bad for your liver will be bad for your eyes. The active ingredient in milk thistle that works so well for the liver, silymarin, is also good for the eyes.
Your liver stores fat-soluble vitamins and glutathione, both of which are used to repair the eyes. Research shows that milk thistle can inhibit a compound called reductase, which plays an important part in the deposit of sugar in the eyes of those suffering from diabetes. So consuming milk thistle will help both your liver and your eyes, which tend to rely on one another.
Grape Seed Extract
Over the last time, grape seed extract has been greatly discussed as a super healthy benefit that can help our bodies in numerous ways. One of the ways grape seed extract can help our eyes is through its numerous phytochemicals, including flavonoids, linoleic acid, vitamin E, and oligomeric proanthocyanidins. These compounds work great for those with cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and even simple eye strain. Oligomeric proanthocyanidins are especially well known for their antihistamine and antioxidant compounds, which are known to improve overall eye health.
Fennel has long been said to provide relief from watery or inflamed eyes, as well as strengthen them. Many people use fennel tea as an eyewash for more serious conditions, such as glaucoma or cataracts. One study done in 2000 showed that one drop of fennel aqueous seed extract had a reduction in intraocular pressure for those with glaucoma. This means fennel might one day be a super anti-glaucoma medication or eye drop solution in the near future.
Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory and medicinal benefits in many areas, and that includes the eyes. This popular spice encourages eye health by reducing the oxidation of the lens of the eye. Research shows that the anti-inflammatory compounds in the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, can help relieve dry eye syndrome.
This herb is similar to fennel in that it has also been linked to improved eyesight and improved results for those with cataracts. Some researchers talk about this herb as being a possible key to the prevention of loss of sight among the elderly. Several clinical trials have shown tremendous results for those suffering from early-stage macular degeneration as saffron improved the retinal flicker sensitivity levels.
Research has shown that the anthocyanosides in bilberry can boost the production of pigments that help the eyes adapt to changes in lighting. This is something that the British pilots of World War II knew years ago. They used to consume the fruit from bilberry bushes regularly because it helped to improve their night vision. Anthocyanosides are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. This herb is super beneficial for many types of eye disorders including macular degeneration, reducing inflammation of the retina, and retinopathy. This herb can offer 10 times the antioxidant power of vitamin C and more than 50 times the power of vitamin E.
Green tea is well known for containing high levels of antioxidants and tannins, but did you know that it also contains caffeine, which can help to shrink the blood vessels that are the reason for dry eyes and puffy eyes? Placing a tea bag over the eyes can be super effective when it comes to reducing the puffiness and fluid buildup around the eyes. Studies have shown that green tea also contains powerful compounds called zeaxanthin, lutein, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which offer powerful protection from numerous eye disorders.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that make the pigment for the macula, an area at the back of the eye that is key to our vision. These carotenoids filter out damaging blue light as well as ultraviolet light. Studies have shown that people who consume diets that have high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin have lower risks of macular degeneration.
Herbs are not intended to be the sole support for eye health, but to merely serve as a complement to proper eye hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular eye examinations. Some eye diseases are very slow to progress and may not be noticeable until the disease has become severe. Always consult with your optometrist and get regular eye exams.
I hope you have found this article helpful.
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