After age 40, people experience changes in vision. You might find that you need reading glasses because you can no longer see clearly up close, or glare might suddenly be a problem. It might be harder for you to tell colors apart, too. As your age continues to increase, so does your risk of vision problems and eye disease. Cataracts, dry eye and macular degeneration are all at higher risk.
There’s a lot you can do to make sure you have healthy eyes as you age. One of the most important things you can do is to ensure that you have the vital dietary nutrients your eyes need to stay healthy.
Egg Yolks, Kale and Spinach
These foods are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids and powerful antioxidants that your macula needs to stay vibrant. The macula is part of the retina that is responsible for detailed vision and centering of objects. A healthy macula means that you’ll continue to see the fine print on a prescription bottle label or in a newspaper. These nutrients are also important in preventing cataracts. Egg yolks, and dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, are excellent sources, as are sweet corn, broccoli and peas.
Salmon, Walnuts and Flaxseed
Omega-3 fatty acids are a vitally important nutrient that your eyes need for protection of your retina and production of fluid in your tear ducts. People who intake high levels of omega-3 have a much lower risk of developing macular degeneration. Omega-3 also keeps your heart and brain healthy, too! Walnuts are a good source, or you can take daily flaxseed oil or drink milk made from flaxseed. Fish like sardines, herring, halibut, tuna, flounder and salmon are all good sources.
Salmon is also a good source of another carotenoid called astaxanthin which is important in preventing blindness and a whole host of eye diseases. Depending on your condition, your doctor might also recommend that you take an over-the-counter supplement.
Purple Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that have purple skins contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins that are important to eye health. In particular, they decrease inflammation in the retina that is so characteristic of many eye diseases. Anthocyanins naturally occur in fruits like purple grapes, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, black currants, goji berries, cranberries and bilberries, and in vegetables like red cabbage, eggplant and dark olives.
Your mom was right if she told you to eat carrots to save your eyesight. Orange vegetables like carrots contain a nutrient called beta-carotene, another power-packed antioxidant and carotenoid vital to eye health. Beta-carotene helps the body convert vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed to help people see in darkness or dimly lit environments. When people have a serious lack of vitamin A, the cornea can completely disappear! Beta carotene has also been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration. Most orange and yellow vegetables, like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squashes and carrots are a rich source.
Beef, Chicken and Cashews
You may have heard that zinc lessens the severity of the common cold, but did you also know that zinc is essential to your eyes? It’s true, but it is certainly a lesser known fact that you need this essential trace mineral for your eyes. Like many of the other nutrients mentioned here, zinc n slows the progression of macular degeneration. Beef, chicken and turkey, cocoa, crab, chickpeas, muschrooms, and pumpkin seeds are great sources of zinc. Do you like oysters? Then you’re in luck! Two oysters give you more than the daily recommended amount of zinc.
Strawberries, Grapefruit and Brussels Sprouts
Vitamin C plays so many important roles in human health, and one of those roles is in eye health. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. You can eat half a grapefruit or a half cup of strawberries and do wonders for your eyes. That’s all you need per day. Green peppers, papaya and oranges are also great sources.
Seeds and Nuts
In addition to vitamin C, your eyes also need vitamin E to keep tissues strong and functional. Most Americans don’t get enough vitamin E from dietary sources, so you may need an over-the-counter supplement. But you might be surprised at how easy it is to get vitamin E from dietary sources. Just grab a handful of sunflower seeds, almonds or pecans and you’re good to go!
Research shows that refined sugars and flours may increase your eye disease risk as you age. Instead, choose whole grain breads, cereals and other products.
Choosing lean sources of proteins is always a good choice, because meat, fish and eggs are also excellent sources of some of the other necessary nutrients like zinc and lutein.
High levels of sodium intake may be linked to formation of cataracts, so be sure to use less salt; try to stay below 2,000 mg per day. It may sound easy, but salt added to foods can add up in your daily diet. A good rule of thumb is to choose fresh foods and frozen vegetables rather than canned vegetables and preserved foods.
Yes, water is good for your eyes! It is very important for your eyes to stay hydrated for optimum eye health and to prevent dry eye.
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