Diet plays a major role in defining our overall health. It acts as the building block for our body and lays the foundation for our physical and mental well-being. Now, I hope it makes sense to point out that eating the right food is essential for our eyes as well. It may be the right time to start keeping a tab on what you eat daily and how you could improve it. During the pandemic time and lockdown, a lot of us ignored our diets, while spending a lot of time in front of digital screens like laptops, phones, and TVs. This explains the increased search for prescription glasses among people. Apart from cutting down on your screen time, cutting and serving these food items will help your eyes a lot.
The Scientific Overview
The most common vision problems that seem to occur with a nutrition deficient diet are cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). If the factor of weight is also added, the list goes on to include a lot more eye conditions related to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
Age-related macular degeneration is a term used for a condition where vision is lost due to deterioration of the retina. Here, nutrition helps with slowing down the degradation of the macula. The macula, an oval-shaped pigmented area near the centre of the retina, is an area of high oxidative stress. Meaning, there is an abundance of free radicals which are involved with damaging proteins and DNA structures within the surrounding cells.
The introduction of anti-oxidants, and specific vitamins and minerals, in such conditions helps in fighting these free radicals. This keeps our muscles from deteriorating, and hence our vision unharmed.
Which Vitamins and Minerals are Good for Eye Health?
In general, a standard diet recommended by doctors for a healthy lifestyle goes a long way in keeping our vision well.
To get more into the details, there are plenty of specific minerals you could consume to remain on the safer side.
Nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, C, and E, and zinc are the most important nutrients to ensure good vision.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are a form of carotenoids that are found in the retina. These carotenoids act as natural antioxidants in our macular region. The consumption of these minerals helps in maintaining pigment density as well. These pigments, in return, are responsible for absorbing excess blue and ultraviolet light and neutralizing free radicals.
The omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is also vital to retinal health. According to medical journals, DHA is present in high concentrations in the outer region of retinal photoreceptors. Moreover, it is shown to have anti-inflammatory properties – which is helpful since inflammation is one of the many parameters of AMD.
Vitamins A, C, and E also help with a lot of intricate functions of the cornea. Keeping the eyes from getting dry, preventing night blindness, preventing oxidative damage to the cornea, stopping cataracts from developing, etc. are some of the basic functions of these three vitamins.
Zinc on the farther end is responsible for the overall development of our eyes. It helps in maintaining cell membranes, protein structures, production of melanin, etc. Zinc is also known to reduce visual acuity loss by 20 percent.
Alright, where do I get the good stuff?
Naturally obtained nutrition is mostly more than enough to take care of healthy vision. A healthy diet consisting of a variety of vegetables and fruits is adequate to achieve our goals. As a rule of thumb, a healthy diet consisting of seafood twice a week, and 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, is an optimal start.
Although you might need to take supplements in some conditions, it is recommended that you consult your doctor beforehand.
A good serving of green leafy vegetables and fruits is great for increasing lutein and zeaxanthin. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, etc. are great options in this domain.
Flaxseed, salmon, sardines, tuna, walnuts, etc. are the best food items to complete our daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids. A good percent of the population overlooks this important mineral and takes it for granted.
The requirements of Vitamins A, C, and E can be taken care of with broccoli, almonds, apricots, carrots, mango, grapefruit, sunflower seeds, ricotta cheese, etc. In case you’re missing out on any of these, it’s recommended you add these to your diet immediately.
Zinc is readily available in chickpeas, oysters, pork chops, red meat, yoghurt, etc. An interesting point to note is that a single serving of oysters is more than enough to meet your required daily intake of zinc.
Our eyes are one of the overlooked body parts which work continuously without rest. Exposing them to digital screens for long hours and not getting enough nutrition to maintain them can cost you dearly. Consulting with your practitioner if needed and following a tailored diet will help you stay away from eye-related disorders for a long time. It will make sure your search for spectacles online is only for fashion, and not vision correction. Believe me, your eyes will thank you!