Just like your heart or your lungs, your eyes benefit by what you eat and how you live, whether you protect them or choose your diet to their advantage. Here are some diet and lifestyle tips for maintaining good vision throughout your life.
When it comes to your diet, beta carotene is one of the best nutrients you can eat for your eyes. Beta carotene helps protect your eyes against macular degeneration (which becomes especially important as you age) and cataracts; it also helps repair your lens from any damage they might incur. And luckily, beta carotene is found in plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also fortunately, nature has made it very easy to identify many of these foods rich in beta carotene as they usually have a reddish-orange color. Foods like apricots, papaya, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, squashes are all very rich in beta carotene. Of course, you can still find beta carotene outside of that color palette; many greens are also high in beta carotene such as collard greens, kale and spinach.
Other important vitamins and minerals include vitamin A and C, omege-3 fatty acids and zinc. Vitamin A helps the blood flow in your eyes, keeping them properly oxygenated, as well as providing extra coverage against macular degeneration. Vitamin C is a fantastic nutrient for tackling free radicals in your body that destroy, among a litany of other parts of your body, your corneas and retinas; highly citric fruits have large quantities of vitamin C (oranges, papaya, kiwis, guavas, etc.) but one of the best sources are actually chili peppers—containing about 400% of your recommended daily value. Both of those vitamins are very prominent in your daily fruits and vegetables, many of them even share some of the same nutrients (like spinach and kale), making it easier to cover all bases in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, like vitamin A, improve blood flow, the value of which will be explained in the following paragraph, which can be found in fish and eggs; and zinc works to increase your night vision as well as enzyme regulation inside your eyeballs. Fish and eggs contain a good amount of zinc, as does milk and beef.
When it comes to foods you should avoid, the list will sound pretty similar to any list you’ve seen for heart health and pretty much any dietary list. Fried foods and foods with enriched flour, high sugar levels and unsaturated fats are all terrible for eyes as they are for the rest of your body as they raise your potential for contraction hypertension, stroke and diabetes. Maintaining good blood pressure is essential for your body and eyes as it assures the proper levels of blood, oxygen and nutrients are being delivered (why omega-3 acids and vitamin A is so important); their deficiency means your eyes don’t have the proper defenses or materials for rebuilding. Fried foods, in addition to clogging up arteries, also eliminate any nutritional values found in the foods being cooked.
Your eyes also take quite a beating from the sun and glare and can lead to dryness, retinal damage as well as corneal ulcers. The UV rays from the sun are responsible for much of the damage that occurs in your eyes when outdoors and can be prevented by UV-blocking sunglasses—100% blockage is recommended; make sure when you’re picking out sunglasses to get ones whose lenses wrap around the top, bottom and sides of your eyes as deleterious light will find its way through the gaps. Glare is also an enemy of your vision and can be countered with polarized lenses—which will help especially when you’re behind the wheel.
With these diet and lifestyle tips you should be able to life a long life of healthy eyes and vision.