For Macular Degeneration Week last week, Elite our Naturopath at Nature’s Sunshine looked at ways to maintain healthy vision.
Vision is so precious. I inherited dad’s vison, which has meant relying on glasses since my teen years. I’ve never minded wearing them, but I do feel helpless whenever I take my glasses off. I’ve always been very careful to make sure I protect my eyes for now and in the future.
Good vision requires good nutrition. Protecting our eyes starts with eating foods, which will support every element and structure of the eye.
Eating for good vision:
Nutrients such as Omega 3, vitamin A, C and E, Zinc, antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may help ward off age-related vision problems.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are nature’s colourful antioxidants. They are powerful antioxidants that help protect the eye from free radical damage and maintain healthy eye tissue.
In nature, lutein and zeaxanthin appear to absorb excess light energy to prevent damage to plants from too much sunlight, especially from high energy light rays called blue light. 1
Include foods in your diet such as leafy green vegetables (such as kale and spinach), yellow pigmented (such as corn, squash berries, kiwi fruits) with are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Egg yolk is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Carotenoids – orange or deeply coloured vegetables and fruits contain beta carotene, a pigment found in foods, which are responsible for their unique colour. Antioxidant rich, they fight free radical damage and help protect the eyes.
Necessary for maintaining vision, vitamin A is required for the normal functioning of the retina. Vitamin A can help the eyes adjust to changes in light, dim light vision, colour vision, improving night vision and lubrication to prevent dry eyes. Colourful foods such as carrot, sweet potatoes and apricot contain beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.2
Highly concentrated in the eye, vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps protect against free radical damage.
Very thin delicate blood vessels in the eyes, called capillaries, need vitamin C for strong arterial walls. Vitamin C also improves blood circulation in the eye.
Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E helps protect cell membranes against free radical damage. Almonds, hazel nuts and sunflower seeds are good sources of vitamin E.
Zinc is an important antioxidant that helps absorb vitamin A, and protects against the depletion of vitamin E. Good sources of Zinc include oysters, eggs, seafood and tofu.
Essential fatty acids, particularly those found in seafood and fish (eg. Salmon, tuna and trout) support healthy eye function. Studies suggest that docosahexanoic acid (DHA) found in Omega 3, plays an important role in the eye. Omega 3 may help reduce the risk of dry eyes, particularly related to computer vision.3
Selenium as an antioxidant helps our body absorb vitamins C and E. Brazil nuts, oysters and seafood are good sources of selenium.
Key foods for good vision – Leafy greens (spinach, broccoli), dark berries, citrus, cold water fish (salmon, tuna, trout), carrots, sweet potato, apricots, almonds, eggs.
- Take a break from computer screens, watching television, video games or reading to give your eyes a rest
- Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a break and look away from the screen and every 2 hours, get up and take a 10 minute break"
- Ensure appropriate lighting for vision, particularly when reading or doing arts and craft work
- Keep lenses clean, replace contact lenses every 3 months or as directed by your optometrist
- Wear sunglasses to protect against sun’s ultra violet rays
- Practice workplace eye safety and wear protective eyewear when required for your job
- Know your family eye health history
- Visit an eye specialist if you experience foggy of fuzzy vision, changes in colour, problem with night driving or double vision
- Ensure your glasses and/or contact prescription is up to date
- Get regular eye exams
For irritated eyes, I often turn to colloidal silver. Spray or drop into the affected eye, use twice a day to soothe an irritated or itchy eye.
Eye love antioxidant rich smoothie
Protect that sparkle in your eye with nutrient rich food for good vision.
1 cup of almonds
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of frozen or fresh berries (buy blue berries and raspberries when in season, and then store them in the freezer)"
1 cup of purified water
1 cup of ice
Place all ingredients in a blender, place lid on tightly and blend until smooth.
Serve and enjoy!
3. Bhargava, R et al, A randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye syndrome Int J Ophthalmol. 2013; 6(6): 811–816 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874521/