In the last 20 years, eye health research has linked diet and nutrition to a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These studies show that nutrient rich foods including zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin C and E and omega-3 fatty acids can help fight age-related vision problems. In fact, people with low levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants are more likely to suffer from retinal damage and AMD from ‘blue light’ or HEV radiation.
Read more about these nutrients that are important for eye health and should form part of a balanced diet:
- Zinc: one of the most concentrated minerals in the eye is Zinc. Often described as a ‘helper molecule’ or a ‘trace mineral’, zinc helps transport Vitamin A from the liver to the retina. This process is vital for the production of melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts and yes, chocolate are good sources of zinc.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: these nutrients are known to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases including AMD and cataracts. Cataracts are the cause of clouding that makes it difficult to see. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and include eggs in your diet as these are rich in both lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an important nutrient and anti-oxidant that helps ward off the development of cataracts. When combined with other essential ingredients, this nutrient can help fight against the progression of AMD and visual acuity loss. Simply stick to your five-a-day fruit and vegetable servings and you’re well on your way to prolonging your vision.
- Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin E packs an extra punch when it comes to protecting the eyes’ cells and sensitive tissue from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is found in nuts, fortified cereals and sweet potatoes.
- Essential Fatty Acids (omega-3): Omega-3 fats are a key category of polyunsaturated fats. Apart from helping to maintain the nervous system, Omega-3 fats are important for proper visual development and retinal function. Add fish such as sardines, salmon or tuna to salads and sandwiches, enjoy a handful of walnuts for a healthy snack or spice up crackers and rice cakes with avocado.