We all know that the food that we eat affects every part of our bodies, and this holds true for the eyes as well. For example, maintaining blood sugar levels with a healthy diet and regular exercise is the best way to avoid diabetic retinopathy, a progressive disease of the retina that affects patients suffering from diabetes and is one of the leading causes of blindness among adults. In fact, there are several nutritional elements that, when added to your diet, can help keep your eyes healthy and maintain good vision throughout your life. Here are a few of the most important.
Vitamin A helps the eye convert light into a signal that can be transmitted to the brain. Without it, night vision gradually deteriorates and the clear front covering of the eye, or cornea, starts to break down. Every year an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 children become blind as a result of vitamin A deficiency. Colorful vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, pumpkin, corn and cantaloupe are particularly rich in a fat-soluble pigment called beta-carotene, which the body can metabolize and convert into vitamin A. Other foods like kale, spinach, dairy products, and egg yolks are also excellent sources.
Vitamins C and E
These antioxidants help to protect cells from the damage caused by the free radicals that are formed when the body converts food into energy. Moreover, they aid in the production of melanin, which acts like a natural sunscreen and helps protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Further studies also suggest that vitamin C may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Citrus fruits (especially kiwi fruit) and juices, green peppers, broccoli, and potatoes are all rich in vitamin C, while vitamin E can be found in eggs, whole grains, vegetable oils, and sunflower seeds. Patients who have a history of smoking, however, may need to avoid high-dose supplements of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E, as they have been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer in those who already have cancerous or precancerous cells.
Essential fatty acids work to make sure visual development and retinal function run smoothly, and regulate the nervous and immune systems to keep the body healthy and active. Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically, can help protect the tiny blood vessels in the eyes, reducing the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Omega-3 fatty acids are most often found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and rainbow trout, nuts like pistachios, walnuts, and almonds, or sunflower and corn oils.
Including these key elements into your regular diet can help prevent many serious eye conditions and help keep your vision clear and sharp. If you have further questions about your eyes, or about any of the services we offer, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today to make an appointment. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips for healthy eyes.