Maintaining healthy eyes for people of all ages is directly linked to sustaining a proper diet. Eating certain types of food can prevent eye diseases and reduce dry eyes symptoms, as well as other benefits.
And if you were wondering, no; a good “eye diet” doesn’t begin and end with eating carrots. Here’s why:
The Carrot Myth
“Carrots are good for your eyes.” You’ve probably heard it quite a lot while growing up. There is some truth to it – carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which our body transforms into Vitamin A. However, the body doesn’t do it very efficiently, and plenty of other foods (which we will go over shortly) contain vitamin A and other nutrients that are good for the eyes.
So why are carrots famous for their vision benefits? During World War II, the U.K. government campaigned for people to consume carrots by claiming that the success of the Royal Air Force against the Germans is credited to superior night vision, thanks to a diet consisting of plenty of carrots. However, the RAF’s success had more to do with innovative radar technology than anything else. It didn’t stop the myth of carrots being good for the eyes from spreading and becoming “common knowledge”.
So what other types of beneficial ‘food for eyes’ are there?
Food With Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are types of carotenoids with antioxidant functions that help protect the eye. They can be found in the eye’s macula, and help block blue light, thus preventing or slowing down the progression of macular degeneration.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale, as well as avocados, broccoli and peas are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.
Food With Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Some fatty acids, such as omega-3 cannot be produced by your body. Therefore, it is recommended eating food that’s rich in fatty acids. Omega-3 is essential to the development of vision among infants, whether through breast milk of baby formula. It also helps prevents eye disease more common with older people such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Popular omega-3 rich foods are fish like salmon, tuna and sardines.
Food With Vitamins A, C and E
“Eye vitamins” such as A, C and E provide a variety of functions that improve eye health, ranging from slowing down or preventing diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts, to avoiding dry eyes or night blindness, as well as other benefits.
Foods that are rich on one or a number of vitamins for eye health are eggs, whole grains (quinoa, brown rice), citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), berries, almonds and other nuts, colorful fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, pumpkin, corn and others) as well as legumes such as kidney beans, lentils and black-eyed peas.
Food With Zinc
Whole grains and legumes mentioned above are rich in zinc, which some evidence suggests it can slow down macular degeneration, as well as providing improved eye health. Zinc can also be found in oysters, beef and other food types. However, because zinc stops your body from absorbing copper, it isn’t recommended in high amounts, and food supplements with zinc also contain extra copper.
Some research suggests that food supplements, especially those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, provide better overall results than different types of food when it comes to maintaining healthy eyes. Supplements such as fish oil, flaxseed oil and black currant oil are known to prevent dry eyes syndrome as well as slow down macular degeneration and cataracts.