Visions of a healthy future: How the right foods can protect your eyes
Envisioning a healthier you? Want to make sure you’ll continue, as you age, to enjoy all the sites there are to see? Eating a healthy diet provides benefits for your eyes! Many of us don’t get the vitamins and minerals we need that could prevent two common vision problems: cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Other common eye problems include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye disease. Our risk of developing an eye disease increases as we get older. While we can’t stop the hands of time, there are certain nutrients that can improve eye function, protect us against harmful light, and keep age-related diseases at bay.
More than carrots!
Most of us have been told since childhood to eat our carrots because they’re especially good for our eyes. But did you know there are many other foods that keep our eyes healthy? Foods that support healthy vision include those that are high in antioxidants and nutrients:
- red meat, shellfish, chickpeas, and yogurt (zinc)
- cold water fish, flaxseed, and walnuts (omega-3 fatty acids)
- leafy green vegetables and many yellow/orange items in the produce aisle (lutein and zeaxanthin)
- many fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts (vitamins A, C, and E)
Other examples include raw red peppers, sunflower seeds, almonds, salmon, sweet potatoes, chicken, eggs, squash, broccoli, brussels sprouts, legumes such as beans, and supplements that contain gamma-linolenic acid like primrose oil and starflower oil (which can be found at most national drug stores).
Dr. Ivana Kim, associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, recommends eating fish at least twice a week and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
High blood pressure and eye problems
Did you know high blood pressure can actually cause eye problems? It’s true! This is one of the reasons why it’s important to monitor your blood pressure regularly to make sure it stays below 120 (systolic) and 80 (diastolic). Anything above that is considered elevated or high. A heart-healthy diet is one of the many ways to control blood pressure and protect your eye health. It’s a win-win.
Diabetes and eye problems
Another reason to maintain healthy blood pressure numbers is because doing so can play an important role in preventing or managing diabetic retinopathy, a vision problem some diabetics may develop. According to Web MD, “Retinal disorders affect the thin lining on the back of the eye. It’s made up of cells that collect visual images and pass them on to your brain. Problems with your retina affect this image transfer.” Other ways you can address this complication include controlling blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
Prevention is the best medicine
Sometimes, we may not be aware that we have eye problems because we don’t have any noticeable symptoms. That’s why it’s recommended that you schedule regular visits with an eye care professional. This is especially true as we age and for people with diabetes or high blood pressure. According to the National Institute on Aging, “Everyone over age 50 should have a dilated eye exam every year or as recommended by your eye care professional, even if you have good vision and don’t wear contacts or glasses.” Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent any eye disease from getting worse.
Another way to protect your eyes is by using the 20/20/20 rule when looking at a screen. The Cleveland Eye Clinic explains, “For every 20 minutes you spend staring at a screen, you must look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds straight.”
See how healthy foods can help
At Healthrageous, all of our tasty, nutritious meals are developed with your good health in mind – that includes your eyes! Some of our Made Easy Meals with vision-friendly ingredients are the Butternut Squash & Chickpea Curry Bowl, the Falafel, and the Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. Another perk of letting us prepare your meals is that you get to rest your eyes while it’s heating up in the microwave or oven.
Visit “Order Meals” in the menu at the top of the page to get vision-friendly foods delivered directly to your doorstep. See how easy it is?