The foods you eat have a tremendous effect on the way your body functions, even when the benefits may not appear obvious. Unlike the well-publicized links between the foods you eat and medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes, the connection between nutrition and eye health could get neglected until a condition arises. Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts1 and night blindness2 are 3 common medical conditions that may impact your eyes, particularly as you age.

But even though many eye-related health problems tend to creep up on you in your later years, eating eye-healthy foods is essential throughout the life cycle. Here are some foods that could, literally, help you look and feel better:

  1. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and Swiss chard are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients which may reduce risks of chronic eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Egg yolks may also contain high levels of these nutrients. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also antioxidants, which help protect healthy eye cells.3 It can be difficult to fit in these foods every day, so a supplement may be necessary to meet your needs for zeaxanthin and lutein.
  2. Salmon is a potent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation in the body, including the eyes. Fatty acids support retinal function and could also help prevent dry eyes.4
  3. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with night blindness.5
  4. Citrus fruits and broccoli are packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body. Vitamin C may also reduce risks of developing cataracts.6
  5. Nuts and seeds contain vitamin E, another antioxidant that protects healthy eye cells by fighting off damage from free radicals.7
  6. Oysters are sources of zinc, a part of many essential enzymes for the eyes, including the antioxidant superoxide dismutase. A lack of zinc may increase chances of developing night blindness.8

Consistently including these foods in your diet may help ward off eye disease, especially those that occur with age. For a tasty eye-healthy meal, try a large salad made with dark leafy greens, carrots, mandarin oranges, and sliced nuts—and topped with a piece of grilled salmon.

Foods packed with vitamins that promote healthy eyes

Registered dietitian Joy Bauer suggests eating foods filled with nutrients and vitamins to support eye health and possibly prevent or delay the effects of macular degeneration. Here are some important nutrients and the foods where you can find them.9

Beta-carotene

Carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, cantaloupe, apricots and cherries.

Vitamin B6

Wild salmon or trout, skinless chicken, chickpeas, bananas and acorn squash

Vitamin B12

Shellfish, yogurt, skim or low-fat milk, eggs and soy milk.

Vitamin C

Bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oranges, strawberries and kiwis.

Vitamin E

Wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, peanut butter and avocados.

Lutein and zeaxanthin

Spinach, Swiss chard, watercress, corn and persimmons.

Omega-3 fats

Wild salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, walnuts and edamame.

Zinc

Oysters, turkey, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.

Add eye health checkups with Humana’s vision care

Vision care is not always included in your health plan, but it is an important part of your well-being. Annual vision checkups are not only about vision, but also about eye health.

Regularly adding healthy eye foods to your diet should come with regular visits to your optometrist, and Humana offers vision care that can be included with your health plan or used as a supplement to employer-provided coverage.

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Source

  1. “Common eye Disorders and Diseases,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html.
  2. “What is Night Blindness?” WebMD, last accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/night-blindness.
  3. “8 Nutrients That Will Optimize Your Eye Health,” Healthline, last accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-nutrients-for-eyes.
  4. “7 Best Foods for Healthy Eyes,” Healthline, last accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/best-foods-for-eyes.
  5. “Are Carrots Good for Your Eyes?” Healthline, last accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-carrots-good-for-your-eyes.
  6. “8 Nutrients That Will Optimize Your Eye Health.”
  7. “7 Best Foods for Healthy Eyes.”
  8. “8 Nutrients That Will Optimize Your Eye Health.”
  9. Joy Bauer, “How Food Affects Macular Degeneration,” JoyBauer.com, last accessed October 27, 2021, https://joybauer.com/vision/how-food-affects-macular-degeneration/.