The role nutrition plays in maintaining good eye health
A poor diet can put your sight at risk. Yet, awareness of the link between diet and good eye health is low – a recent survey found 60% of people living in the UK had no idea that what they eat can affect the health of their eyes. 1
Vitamins, minerals and carotenoids found in many fruits, vegetables and other wholesome foods can help protect your sight and keep your eyes healthy.
Here are just some of the foods that are rich in eye-friendly nutrients…
Cold water fish like cod, sardines and tuna are excellent sources of DHA, and Omega-3 fatty acids. These provide structural support to cell membranes and may be beneficial for dry eyes, and the maintenance of general eye health.
Research has shown that eating just one portion of fish a week may reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the UK’s leading cause of blindness – by up to 40%. 2
Blueberries and grapes contain anthocyanins, which may help improve night vision.
Green leafy vegetables spinach or kale, for examples, are rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin may help prevent age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. These carotenoids may also reduce discomfort from glare and enhance visual contrast. 3
Citrus Fruits are a good source of Vitamin C. Studies have shown that Vitamin C may help to prevent age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Whole grains and avocados are rich in zinc and Vitamin B. Deficiency in complex B vitamins may increase your risk of cataracts and retinopathy.
Papaya is a good source of beta carotene which can help to prevent “free radical” damage inside the eye.
Eggs are rich in cysteine, sulphur, lecithin, amino acids and lutein. Sulphur may also help protect the lens of the eye from cataracts.
Garlic, onions, shallots and capers are rich in sulphur, which is necessary for the production of glutathione, an important antioxidant required to help maintain healthy sight.
Soy contains essential fatty acids, phytoestrogens, Vitamin E and natural anti-inflammatory agents. Vitamin E is important for the maintenance of good eye health.
Unfortunately today’s busy lifestyles mean many people miss out on essential nutrients provided by a healthy diet, so taking supplements can be really beneficial. Always consult your Optometrist or GP before taking supplements.
Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for some key eye-friendly nutrients 4
Vitamin A - 0.7mg a day for men and 0.6mg for women
Vitamin B6 - 1.4mg for men and 1.2mg for women
Vitamin C - 40mg a day for all adults
Vitamin E - 4mg a day for men , 3 mg a day for women
Zinc - 5.5 – 9.5mg for men and 4 – 7mg for women
1. Eyecare Trust “Healthy Eyes Report”
2. Dietary Fatty Acids and the 5-Year Incidence of Age-related Maculopathy, Brian Chua et al.
3. Journal of Food Science
4. NHS Choices. RDI for healthy adults.
For more information about nutrition and the eye and general eye care advice please visit www.visionmatters.org.uk